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Project Report

Radiation therapy education for rural and remote GPs

Submitted: 14 November 2007
Revised: 13 March 2008
Published: 1 May 2008

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Author(s) : Chapman NA, Oultram SC, Jovanovic K.

Citation: Chapman NA, Oultram SC, Jovanovic K.  Radiation therapy education for rural and remote GPs. Rural and Remote Health (Internet) 2008; 8: 888. Available: (Accessed 17 October 2017)


Introduction:  Radiation therapy (RT) plays an important role in the treatment of many malignancies, either as a primary treatment or adjuvant modality. The referral base for many New South Wales (NSW) radiation oncology departments extends across rural and remote NSW regions. There are limited resources and support available to GPs in these rural areas to assist them in caring for patients considering or about to undergo RT, and those who have completed RT treatment and have returned to their rural residence. The project described aimed to develop an electronic learning (e-learning) information resource for: (1) both health professionals and patients in the NSW rural sector on general RT information; and (2) GPs on the specifics of radiation induced skin reactions. In order to produce a comprehensive information package and resource for rural GPs and their patients, a needs assessment was conducted on a sample GP population.
Methods:  The needs assessment was conducted via distribution of a survey to 1700 rural GPs throughout NSW. The survey was developed using patient and clinician input; and SPSS software (SPSS Inc; Chicago, IL, USA) was used for data analysis. The collected data were analysed descriptively to quantify the GPs’ responses.
Results:  A response rate of 22% was achieved. Of the respondents, 93.9% had previously cared for a patient undergoing radiation therapy, and 76.7% felt they had insufficient information to support their patient through this process. In total, 96.1% of the GPs indicated the need for information about acute and chronic radiation induced skin reactions. The need for educational material to be available in both hard copy and electronically was identified.
Conclusion:  The results indicate that most GPs have cared for an RT patient and few felt they had sufficient information. There was genuine interest from the respondents in obtaining an information and resource package that would assist them in the care of these patients.

Key words:  e-learning, general practitioners, patient information, radiation therapy.

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