Joseph Akanuwe receives PhD for work on communicating cancer risk

Joseph Akanuwe, doctoral student at CaHRU was recently confirmed by the College of Social Science Research Degrees Board that he be awarded his PhD for his thesis ‘Exploring service user and practitioner perspectives of using cancer risk assessment tools in primary care consultations. Cancer risk prediction tools are novel tools that combine risk factors and symptoms to predict an individual’s risk of developing cancer.

WP_20160208_16_16_01_RichThe work included a systematic scoping review followed by interviews of 19 service users and 17 primary care practitioners, the latter before and after they had used the tools in patient consultations. Participants suggested ways to best communicate cancer risk to patients in primary care consultations, emphasising the importance of: tailoring visual representation of risk; being open and honest; informing and involving patients in use of cancer risk prediction tools and providing time for listening, explaining and reassuring in the context of a professional approach.

He also found barriers to the uptake of cancer risk prediction tools including: the additional time required; worry and anxiety generated by referral for investigations; potential for over-referral; practitioner scepticism about using the new tool; and the need for evidence of effectiveness before introducing cancer risk prediction tools in general practice consultations. These barriers were perceived before the use of the tools. The findings add to the knowledge and understanding of how best to communicate cancer risk information to patients when using cancer risk prediction tools. Joseph was supervised by Profs Niro Siriwardena and Sara Owen, together with Dr Sharon Black.

By Prof Niro Siriwardena