BACKGROUND: Cancer care usually involves several health professionals from different parts of the health care system. Often, the GP has an important role. Patients' experiences of continuity and support may be related to characteristics of health care, disease or patients.
OBJECTIVES: To investigate Danish cancer patients' experiences of their contact to the GP and the cooperation between the GP and the hospital.
METHODS: A national cross-sectional questionnaire study in three representative counties of Denmark. Based on a review of medical records from all hospital departments treating cancer patients, a random sample of 1490 patients completed a validated questionnaire regarding patient experiences. A mixed methods approach was applied. Associations between patient experiences and background variables were analysed in ordinal logistic regression models and patients' written comments were analysed qualitatively.
RESULTS: One-third of the patients evaluated the cooperation between hospitals and primary care as suboptimal. Younger patients and patients from the capital Copenhagen were most dissatisfied. A third had needed support from their GP, and 41% of these patients had not fully received what they needed. Older patients, patients in Stage 1 and patients from surgical departments were least likely to have needed their GP's support. Patients described support from the GP as empathic behaviour and help with coordinating health services.
CONCLUSIONS: A substantial number of cancer patients experienced suboptimal cross-sectorial cooperation and supportive care. Efforts to improve cancer care cooperation may focus on the possible supportive role of the GP as it seems that there is an untapped potential in primary care.