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Open Access Research article

The value of prostate cancer support groups: a pilot study of primary physicians’ perspectives

Bernard M Garrett1*, John L Oliffe1, Joan L Bottorff2, Michael McKenzie3, Christina S Han1 and John S Ogrodniczuk4

Author Affiliations

1 School of Nursing, University of British Columbia, T201, 2211 Wesbrook Mall, V6T 2B5 Vancouver, BC, Canada

2 School of Nursing, University of British Columbia Okanagan, FIP246A - Fipke Centre, 3333 University Way, V1V 1 V7 Kelowna, BC, Canada

3 British Columbia Cancer Agency, Vancouver Centre, 600 West 10th Avenue, V5Z 4E6 Vancouver, BC, Canada

4 Department of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia, 420 - 5950 University Blvd., V6T 1Z3 Vancouver, BC, Canada

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BMC Family Practice 2014, 15:56  doi:10.1186/1471-2296-15-56

Published: 28 March 2014



In Canada, prostate cancer (PCa) is the most common male cancer, and prostate cancer support groups (PCSGs) have prevailed for more than 20 years providing support to men with PCa and their families. While the format, focus and benefits of attending PCSGs have been reported little is known about primary physicians’ (PPs) perceptions of these groups. This article describes Canadian primary physicians’ views about face-to-face and web-based PCSGs.


Canadian based primary physicians (n = 140) attending a 2012 Continuing Medical Education Conference participated in a pilot survey questionnaire study. The 56-item questionnaire used in this study included six sets of attitudinal items to measure primary physicians’ beliefs about positive and negative influences of PCSGs, reasons for attending PCSGs, the attributes of effective PCSGs, and the value of face-to-face and web-based PCSGs.


Results showed that PCSGs were positively valued, particularly for information sharing, education and psychosocial support. Poor inclusivity, privacy, and accessibility were identified as potential barriers, and recommendations were made for better marketing and web-based PCSGs to increase engagement with potential attendees.


Findings suggest PPs highly valued the role and potential benefits of PCSGs. Information provision and an educational role were perceived as key benefits amid the need to improve local and provincial marketing of PCSGs. The potential for web-based PCSGs to help in the support of PCa patients was also recognized.

Prostate cancer support groups; Primary healthcare providers; Clinician’s attitudes