Prostate specific antigen testing in family practice: a cross sectional survey of self-reported rates of and reasons for testing participation and risk disclosure
1 Priority Research Centre for Health Behaviour, Faculty of Health, University of Newcastle, Callaghan 2308, Australia
2 Hunter Medical Research Institute, Newcastle 2305, Australia
3 Southern Academic Primary Care Research Unit, Monash University, Notting Hill 3168, Australia
BMC Family Practice 2013, 14:186 doi:10.1186/1471-2296-14-186Published: 9 December 2013
Despite controversy about the benefits of routine prostate specific antigen (PSA) testing, rates of participation continue to rise. It is important to ensure that men are fully informed about the potential risks associated with this test. Little is known about the processes of shared decision making for PSA testing in the family practice setting. This study aimed to explore men’s experiences of PSA testing participation and risk disclosure for PSA testing.
A cross-sectional survey of male family practice attendees aged 40 years or older, with no previous history of prostate cancer, between June 2010 and November 2011. Questions related to whether participants had undertaken PSA testing or discussed this with their doctor over the past 5 years, whether the patient or doctor had initiated the discussion, reasons for undergoing testing, and whether their doctor had discussed particular risks associated with PSA testing.
Sixty-seven percent (215/320) of men recalled having a PSA test in the past five years. Of the respondents who reported not having a test, 14% had discussed it with their doctor. The main reasons for having a PSA test were doctor recommendation and wanting to keep up to date with health tests. Thirty-eight percent or fewer respondents reported being advised of each potential risk.
Despite debate over the benefits of routine PSA testing, a high proportion of male family practice attendees report undertaking this test. Risks associated with testing appear to be poorly disclosed by general practitioners. These results suggest the need to improve the quality of informed consent for PSA testing in the family practice setting.