The role of chronic conditions in influencing symptom attribution and anticipated help-seeking for potential lung cancer symptoms: a vignette-based study

Aradhna Kaushal, Jo Waller, Christian von Wagner, Sonja Kummer, Katriina Whitaker, Aishwarya Puri, Georgios Lyratzopoulos, Cristina Renzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: Very little is known about the influence of chronic conditions on symptom attribution and help-seeking for potential cancer symptoms. Aim: To determine if symptom attribution and anticipated help-seeking for potential lung cancer symptoms is influenced by pre-existing respiratory conditions (often referred to as comorbidity), such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Design & setting: A total of 2143 adults (1081 with and 1062 without a respiratory condition) took part in an online vignette survey. Method: The vignette described potential lung cancer symptoms (persistent cough and breathlessness) after which questions were asked on symptom attribution and anticipated help-seeking. Results: Attribution of symptoms to cancer was similar in participants with and without respiratory conditions (21.5% and 22.1%, respectively). Participants with respiratory conditions, compared with those without, were more likely to attribute the new or changing cough and breathlessness to asthma or COPD (adjusted odds ratio [OR] = 3.64, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 3.02 to 4.39). Overall, 56.5% of participants reported intention to seek help from a GP within 3 weeks if experiencing the potential lung cancer symptoms. Having a respiratory condition increased the odds of prompt help-seeking (OR = 1.25, 95% CI = 1.04 to 1.49). Regular healthcare appointments were associated with higher odds of anticipated help-seeking. Conclusion: Only one in five participants identified persistent cough and breathlessness as potential cancer symptoms, and half said they would promptly seek help from a GP, indicating scope for promoting help-seeking for new or changing symptoms. Chronic respiratory conditions did not appear to interfere with anticipated help-seeking, which might be explained by regular appointments to manage chronic conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalBJGP Open
Volume4
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • awareness
  • general practice
  • health knowledge
  • lung diseases (obstructive)
  • lung neoplasms
  • primary health care

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