The Healthcare Delivery Research Program's Role in Physician Surveys

In keeping with its mission, the Healthcare Delivery Research Program tracks the use of screening modalities, therapies, new technologies, and other factors that may influence the cancer burden nationally. Many of these therapies and technologies are available to patients and the public only through contact with a health care provider. Because research findings and new technologies may have minimal impact if they are not adopted into widespread use by practicing physicians, periodic assessment of physician practice with respect to new as well as established cancer control technologies is critically important. Thus, Healthcare Delivery Research Program activities include selected studies of physicians and health care organizations.

The first surveys focused on primary care physicians' practices related to screening for breast, cervical, colorectal, and lung cancer. Subsequent surveys have focused on physicians' care related to energy balance and physicians' attitudes about care for cancer survivors.

Data collection for two studies, the Physician Survey on Cancer Susceptibility Testing and the Survey of Colorectal Cancer Screening Practices in Health Care Organizations, was recently completed under contracts with Abt Associates, Inc.External Web Site Policy

The NCI-led National Survey of Primary Care Physicians' Recommendations and Practice for Breast, Cervical, Colorectal, & Lung Cancer Screening (the Agency for Healthcare Research and QualityExternal Web Site Policy and Centers for Disease Control and PreventionExternal Web Site Policy are co-sponsors) was fielded between September 2006 and May 2007. It obtained current, national data on primary care physicians' (PCPs') knowledge, attitudes, recommendations, and practices related to screening for breast, cervical, colorectal, and lung cancer.

Human Subjects Protection

The study protocols underwent scientific review at NCI, and were approved by the Institutional Review Boards of both the NCI and Abt Associates, Inc. The studies were approved by the US Office of Management and Budget (OMB)External Web Site Policy in August, 1999.

Name, address and telephone number will be collected and retained only throughout the study period because they are necessary for maintaining contact with the respondent. The respondent's social security number will not be collected. Records will be identified and retrieved for analysis using a study identification number only, so that personal identities will be masked. No linkage with other data nor follow-up will be conducted after the questionnaire is completed. Confidentiality of the identity of respondents will be maintained. All completed hard copy instruments and other data forms will be stored in locked files at Abt Associates Inc. The use of a password will be required for access to all data files. All computer data will be maintained in a manner consistent with the Department of Health and Human Services ADP Systems Security Policy as described in DHHS ADP Systems Manual, Chapters 6-30 and 6-35. All Abt staff working on the studies will be trained to strictly maintain the confidentiality of all data. Access to data will be limited to staff working on the studies. All respondents will be assured of confidentiality in writing in the advance letters.

Provider Survey Methods Workshop

In November 2010, the National Cancer Institute sponsored a Provider Survey Methods Workshop to review and discuss current methodologies in designing and fielding large-scale surveys of physicians and medical group practices. The workshop included a review of methods used in fielding and reporting on large-scale provider surveys over the decade 2000-2010; an Appendix of the 117 surveys included in the review is available here. The research agenda discussed during the workshop has been published:

Klabunde CN, Willis GB, McLeod CC, Dillman DA, Johnson TP, Greene SM, Brown ML. Improving the quality of surveys of physicians and medical groups: a research agenda. Eval Health Prof 2012 Dec;35(4):477-506. [View Abstract]External Web Site Policy