Purpose: Primary care nurses can contribute to cancer early diagnosis. The objective of this systematic review was to identify, appraise and synthesise evidence on primary care nurses’ contribution towards cancer early diagnosis in developed countries. Method: The following databases were searched in September 2017: MEDLINE, PsychINFO, CINAHL, SCOPUS, and EMBASE. Data were extracted on nurses’: knowledge of cancer; frequency of 'cancer early diagnosis-related discussions' with patients; and perceived factors influencing these discussions. Studies were appraised using the Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool. Results: Twenty-one studies were included from: United States, United Kingdom, Ireland, Spain, Turkey, Australia, Brazil and Middle East. Studies were mostly of low quality (one did not meet any appraisal criteria, 15 met one, four met two, and one met three). Nurses' knowledge of cancer, and their frequency of ‘cancer early diagnosis-related discussions’, varied across countries. This may be due to measurement bias or nurses' divergent roles across healthcare systems. Commonly perceived barriers to having screening discussions included: lack of time, insufficient knowledge and communication skills, and believing that patients react negatively to this topic being raised. Conclusions: Findings suggest a need for nurses to be adequately informed about, and have the confidence and skills to discuss, the topic of cancer early diagnosis. Further high-quality research is required to understand international variation in primary care nurses’ contribution to this field, and to develop and evaluate optimal methods for preparing them for, and supporting them in, this.
- Early diagnosis
- Nurse practitioners