People with symptoms that may indicate cancer fall into two groups: (1) patients with (relatively few) alarm symptoms, for whom guidelines recommend urgent referral for specialist assessment, and (2) patients who present initially with non-specific symptoms with a low predictive value for cancer for whom there is a scarcity of evidence-based guidelines and who may be managed for long periods in primary care. Cancer patients in the latter group typically require multiple consultations before being diagnosed either through GP urgent or “routine” referral, or through emergency diagnosis. While some diagnoses can be made during a single healthcare encounter, the diagnostic process is more often than not dynamic and distributed in space and time, involving many different healthcare professionals, often at different locations and times. In this talk Dr Georgia Black considered how we can manage the risk that a patient’s cancer diagnosis will be delayed by considering different approaches and interventions, drawing from their recent research.
Dr Georgia Black has recently joined Queen Mary’s University London as Reader in Applied Health Research within the Wolfson Institute of Population Health. Georgia is a social psychologist whose research has two main foci: patient safety in primary care and across cancer pathways and the effect of socioeconomic inequalities and specifically exclusion from healthcare. In 2019, Georgia was awarded a Postdoctoral Fellowship by The Health Improvement Studies (THIS) Institute. Georgia’s fellowship examines diagnostic safety culture in non-specific symptom pathways for cancer (previously Rapid Diagnostic Centres), using a case study design. Georgia’s work supports healthcare improvement locally and nationally, including strong relationships with cancer charities, cancer alliances, and executive membership of the Policy Research Unit in Cancer Awareness, Screening and Early Diagnosis. Georgia co-founded the UCL Qualitative Health Research Network to create a community of health services researchers dedicated to pushing the boundaries of qualitative methods and reflexivity in healthcare improvement. Dr Black has experience in a wide range of applied qualitative methodologies including interview studies, ethnography, case studies, policy analysis and literature reviews.