Oncology training programmes for general practitioners: a scoping review

3 Jun 2021
Bishal Gyawali, Matthew Jalink, Sophie Marie Anne Effing, Nancy Dalgarno, Klodiana Kolomitro, Niresh Thapa, Bishesh Sharma Poudyal, Scott Berry

Introduction: Due to the increasing global burden of cancer and the shortage of trained medical oncologists, training General Practitioners (GPs) in Oncology (known as GPOs) has been proposed as a means to potentially ease some burden on medical oncologists with heavy workloads, especially in low-and-middle-income countries (LMICs), by task-sharing and task-shifting. We undertook a scoping review to identify and characterise the existing training programmes and curricula for GPOs globally.

Design: We searched three major electronic databases: EMBASE, Medline/PubMed and Education Source for articles that described a medical oncology training programme for GPs. All study types were eligible in this review. We followed a two-stage standardised screening process using two independent reviewers to evaluate the eligibility of the articles.

Results: Five peer-reviewed articles were included in our review and grey literature scans identified an additional seven GPO training programmes for a total of 12 programmes and their curricula. All of the included studies were from high-income countries. The duration of programmes varied from comprehensive programmes structured over 2 years (n = 2) to shorter duration medical oncology training activities (n = 2), a short, 1.5-day workshop and a 10-hour course. In the grey literature, GPO training programme durations ranged from 2 weeks to 13 months. A mixture of delivery methods was employed including didactic lectures and clinical rotations.

Conclusion: This scoping review identified a small number of heterogeneous studies and grey literature sources that described and/or evaluated medical oncology training programmes for GPs. The information synthesised here can be used to foster the collaboration needed for the continued development of GPO programmes that could help address the problem of lack of workforce to meet the rising burden of cancer, especially in LMICs.

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