Quality issues for the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP)

Pentti, Marita Hannele (2010) Quality issues for the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP). Professional Doctorate thesis, Queensland University of Technology.



This two-part research project was undertaken as part of the planning process by Queensland Health (QH), Cancer Screening Services Unit (CSSU), Queensland Bowel Cancer Screening Program (QBCSP), in partnership with the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP), to prepare for the implementation of the NBCSP in public sector colonoscopy services in QLD in late 2006. There was no prior information available on the quality of colonoscopy services in Queensland (QLD) and no prior studies that assessed the quality of colonoscopy training in Australia. Furthermore, the NBCSP was introduced without extra funding for colonoscopy service improvement or provision for increases in colonoscopic capacity resulting from the introduction of the NBCSP. The main purpose of the research was to record baseline data on colonoscopy referral and practice in QLD and current training in colonoscopy Australia-wide. It was undertaken from a quality improvement perspective. Implementation of the NBCSP requires that all aspects of the screening pathway, in particular colonoscopy services for the assessment of positive Faecal Occult Blood Tests (FOBTs), will be effective, efficient, equitable and evidence-based. This study examined two important aspects of the continuous quality improvement framework for the NBCSP as they relate to colonoscopy services: (1) evidence-based practice, and (2) quality of colonoscopy training. The Principal Investigator was employed as Senior Project Officer (Training) in the QBCSP during the conduct of this research project. Recommendations from this research have been used to inform the development and implementation of quality improvement initiatives for provision of colonoscopy in the NBCSP, its QLD counterpart the QBCSP and colonoscopy services in QLD, in general.

Methods – Part 1 Chart audit of evidence-based practice:

The research was undertaken in two parts from 2005-2007. The first part of this research comprised a retrospective chart audit of 1484 colonoscopy records (some 13% of all colonoscopies conducted in public sector facilities in the year 2005) in three QLD colonoscopy services. Whilst some 70% of colonoscopies are currently conducted in the private sector, only public sector colonoscopy facilities provided colonoscopies under the NBCSP. The aim of this study was to compare colonoscopy referral and practice with explicit criteria derived from the National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC) (1999) Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Prevention, Early Detection and Management of Colorectal Cancer, and describe the nature of variance with the guidelines.

Symptomatic presentations were the most common indication for colonoscopy (60.9%). These comprised per rectal bleeding (31.0%), change of bowel habit (22.1%), abdominal pain (19.6%), iron deficiency anaemia (16.2%), inflammatory bowel disease (8.9%) and other symptoms (11.4%). Surveillance and follow-up colonoscopies accounted for approximately one-third of the remaining colonoscopy workload across sites. Gastroenterologists (GEs) performed relatively more colonoscopies per annum (59.9%) compared to general surgeons (GS) (24.1%), colorectal surgeons (CRS) (9.4%) and general physicians (GPs) (6.5%). Guideline compliance varied with the designation of the colonoscopist. Compliance was lower for CRS (62.9%) compared to GPs (76.0%), GEs (75.0%), GSs (70.9%, p<0.05). Compliance with guideline recommendations for colonoscopic surveillance for family history of colorectal cancer (23.9%), polyps (37.0%) and a past history of bowel cancer (42.7%), was by comparison significantly lower than for symptomatic presentations (94.4%), (p<0.001). Variation with guideline recommendations occurred more frequently for polyp surveillance (earlier than guidelines recommend, 47.9%) and follow-up for past history of bowel cancer (later than recommended, 61.7%, p<0.001). Bowel cancer cases detected at colonoscopy comprised 3.6% of all audited colonoscopies. Incomplete colonoscopies occurred in 4.3% of audited colonoscopies and were more common among women (76.6%). For all colonoscopies audited, the rate of incomplete colonoscopies for GEs was 1.6% (CI 0.9-2.6), GPs 2.0% (CI 0.6-7.2), GS 7.0% (CI 4.8-10.1) and CRS 16.4% (CI 11.2-23.5). 18.6% (n=55) of patients with a documented family history of bowel cancer had colonoscopy performed against guidelines recommendations (for general (category 1) population risk, for reasons of patient request or family history of polyps, rather than for high risk status for colorectal cancer). In general, family history was inadequately documented and subsequently applied to colonoscopy referral and practice.

Methods - Part 2 Surveys of quality of colonoscopy training:

The second part of the research consisted of Australia-wide anonymous, self-completed surveys of colonoscopy trainers and their trainees to ascertain their opinions on the current apprenticeship model of colonoscopy in Australia and to identify any training needs.

Overall, 127 surveys were received from colonoscopy trainers (estimated response rate 30.2%). Approximately 50% of trainers agreed and 27% disagreed that current numbers of training places were adequate to maintain a skilled colonoscopy workforce in preparation for the NBCSP. Approximately 70% of trainers also supported UK-style colonoscopy training within dedicated accredited training centres using a variety of training approaches including simulation. A collaborative approach with the private sector was seen as beneficial by 65% of trainers. Non-gastroenterologists (non-GEs) were more likely than GEs to be of the opinion that simulators are beneficial for colonoscopy training (χ2-test = 5.55, P = 0.026). Approximately 60% of trainers considered that the current requirements for recognition of training in colonoscopy could be insufficient for trainees to gain competence and 80% of those indicated that ≥ 200 colonoscopies were needed. GEs (73.4%) were more likely than non-GEs (36.2%) to be of the opinion that the Conjoint Committee standard is insufficient to gain competence in colonoscopy (χ2-test = 16.97, P = 0.0001). The majority of trainers did not support training either nurses (73%) or GPs in colonoscopy (71%).

Only 81 (estimated response rate 17.9%) surveys were received from GS trainees (72.1%), GE trainees (26.3%) and GP trainees (1.2%). The majority were males (75.9%), with a median age 32 years and who had trained in New South Wales (41.0%) or Victoria (30%). Overall, two-thirds (60.8%) of trainees indicated that they deemed the Conjoint Committee standard sufficient to gain competency in colonoscopy. Between specialties, 75.4% of GS trainees indicated that the Conjoint Committee standard for recognition of colonoscopy was sufficient to gain competence in colonoscopy compared to only 38.5% of GE trainees. Measures of competency assessed and recorded by trainees in logbooks centred mainly on caecal intubation (94.7-100%), complications (78.9-100%) and withdrawal time (51-76.2%). Trainees described limited access to colonoscopy training lists due to the time inefficiency of the apprenticeship model and perceived monopolisation of these by GEs and their trainees. Improvements to the current training model suggested by trainees included: more use of simulation, training tools, a United Kingdom (UK)-style training course, concentration on quality indicators, increased access to training lists, accreditation of trainers and interdisciplinary colonoscopy training.

Implications for the NBCSP/QBCSP:

The introduction of the NBCSP/QBCSP necessitates higher quality colonoscopy services if it is to achieve its ultimate goal of decreasing the incidence of morbidity and mortality associated with bowel cancer in Australia. This will be achieved under a new paradigm for colonoscopy training and implementation of evidence-based practice across the screening pathway and specifically targeting areas highlighted in this thesis. Recommendations for improvement of NBCSP/QBCSP effectiveness and efficiency include the following:

  1. Implementation of NBCSP and QBCSP health promotion activities that target men, in particular, to increase FOBT screening uptake.

  2. Improved colonoscopy training for trainees and refresher courses or retraining for existing proceduralists to improve completion rates (especially for female NBCSP/QBCSP participants), and polyp and adenoma detection and removal, including newer techniques to detect flat and depressed lesions.

  3. Introduction of colonoscopy training initiatives for trainees that are aligned with NBCSP/QBCSP colonoscopy quality indicators, including measurement of training outcomes using objective quality indicators such as caecal intubation, withdrawal time, and adenoma detection rate.

  4. Introduction of standardised, interdisciplinary colonoscopy training to reduce apparent differences between specialties with regard to compliance with guideline recommendations, completion rates, and quality of polypectomy.

  5. Improved quality of colonoscopy training by adoption of a UK-style training program with centres of excellence, incorporating newer, more objective assessment methods, use of a variety of training tools such as simulation and rotations of trainees between metropolitan, rural, and public and private sector training facilities.

  6. Incorporation of NHMRC guidelines into colonoscopy information systems to improve documentation, provide guideline recommendations at the point of care, use of gastroenterology nurse coordinators to facilitate compliance with guidelines and provision of guideline-based colonoscopy referral letters for GPs.

  7. Provision of information and education about the NBCSP/QBCSP, bowel cancer risk factors, including family history and polyp surveillance guidelines, for participants, GPs and proceduralists.

  8. Improved referral of NBCSP/QBCSP participants found to have a high-risk family history of bowel cancer to appropriate genetics services.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 31802
Item Type: QUT Thesis (Professional Doctorate)
Supervisor: Newman, Beth, Janda, Monika, & Muller, Jennifer
Keywords: bowel cancer, population screening, National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP), Queensland Bowel Cancer Screening Program (QBCSP) , continuous quality improvement, colonoscopy, clinical practice guidelines, colonoscopy training
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 15 Apr 2010 01:33
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2017 14:43

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