Are Physicians Discussing Prostate Cancer Screening with Their Patients and Why or Why Not?

A Pilot Study

The current study described findings from a qualitative investigation of discussions physicians have with their patients about prostate cancer screening (PCS) and factors that promote or prevent such discussions. The data collected came from interviews and chart-stimulated recall with 18 primary care physicians.

Key Findings:

  • Physicians reported discussing PCS in 64 percent of patient encounters. Six physicians (33%) reported not discussing PCS with patients but tested for prostate-specific antigen (PSA).
  • According to physicians, examples of patient barriers to PCS discussion were comorbidity with other health ailments and lower levels of education and health literacy. Patient facilitators were a patient asking for PCS and patient family history of prostate cancer.
  • Physician barriers to PCS discussion included forgetting to initiate discussions and physician skepticism about the effectiveness of PCS. An example of a physician facilitator was a positive perception of PCS by physicians.
  • Physicians noted system barriers to PCS were patients visiting the physician for reasons other than an annual physical and the length of time required to perform PCS. System facilitators were a patient coming in for an annual physical and physician perusal of laboratory work.

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