BACKGROUND: A prerequisite for early lung cancer diagnosis is that individuals with respiratory alarm symptoms (RAS) contact a general practitioner (GP). This study aims to determine the proportion of individuals in the general population who contact a GP with RAS and to analyse the association between lifestyle factors and contact to GPs with RAS.
METHODS: A web-based survey of 100 000 individuals randomly selected from the Danish Civil Registration System. Items regarding experience of RAS (prolonged coughing, shortness of breath, coughing up blood, and prolonged hoarseness), GP contacts, and lifestyle factors (smoking status, alcohol intake, and body mass index) were included.
RESULTS: In total 49 706 (52.5 %) individuals answered the questionnaire. Overall 7870 reported at least one respiratory alarm symptom, and of those 39.6 % (3 080) had contacted a GP. Regarding specific symptoms, the proportion of individuals that had contacted a GP varied from 27.4 % (prolonged hoarseness) to 47.9 % (shortness of breath). Being a woman and increasing age were significantly associated with a higher proportion of GP contacts. For both genders, current smoking and alcohol intake were significantly associated with lower odds of contacting a GP.
CONCLUSION: Among individuals with RAS, less than one-half contacted a GP. Gender, age, smoking status, and alcohol intake significantly influenced whether individuals with RAS contacted a GP.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: The project has been approved by the Danish Data Protection Agency (journal no. 2011-41-6651 ).
- General population
- Healthcare seeking
- Lifestyle factors
- Lung cancer