General practitioners' perceptions of their role in cancer follow-up care: A qualitative study in the Netherlands

E. Geelen*, A. Krumeich, F.G. Schellevis, M. van den Akker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: In the last few decades there has been a considerable increase in the number of cancer survivors. Health policy makers would like to see cancer follow-up care moved from secondary to primary care.

Method: Between 2008 and 2010, a qualitative study among primary health care professionals was performed to get more insight into the way they care for cancer survivors. Analysed was whether a coordinating role in cancer survivorship care would fit in with the practical logic underlying the way the general practitioners work.

Results: In their everyday work, general practitioners are used to provide care in a reactive way. Based on this habitus, they classify their patients into 'not special' and 'special' ones. Since general practitioners label cancer survivors as 'not special,' they expect these patients to take the initiative to ask for help and present their complaints in a clear and complete way. Their habitus as a gatekeeper implies that they are reticent about referring patients to other primary health care professionals. In regard to 'not special' patients, such as cancer survivors, general practitioners appear to build on the patients' own strengths.

Conclusion: The emphasis on a wait-and-see attitude in contemporary Dutch general practice, as well as the general practitioners' role as a gatekeeper are at odds with the proactive and holistic approach inherent to a coordinating role in cancer follow-up. Therefore, we assume that it will be difficult for general practitioners to shape a pivotal role in this care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-24
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of General Practice
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014


  • cancer follow-up care
  • cancer survivor
  • general practitioner
  • logic of practice
  • pivotal role


Dive into the research topics of 'General practitioners' perceptions of their role in cancer follow-up care: A qualitative study in the Netherlands'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this