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Health professional and patient views of a novel prognostic test for melanoma: A theoretically informed qualitative study

Lookup NU author(s): Jan Lecouturier, Dr Helen Bosomworth, Dr Marie Labus, Dr Robert EllisORCiD, Professor Penny Lovat



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


OBJECTIVES: Cutaneous melanoma rates are steadily increasing. Up to 20% of patients diagnosed with AJCC Stage I/II melanomas will develop metastatic disease. To date there are no consistently reliable means to accurately identify truly high versus low-risk patient subpopulations. There is hence an urgent need for more accurate prediction of prognosis to determine appropriate clinical management. Validation of a novel prognostic test based on the immunohistochemical expression of two protein biomarkers in the epidermal microenvironment of primary melanomas was undertaken; loss of these biomarkers had previously been shown to be associated with a higher risk of recurrence or metastasis. A parallel qualitative study exploring secondary care health professional and patient views of the test was undertaken and this paper reports the perceived barriers and enablers to its implementation into the melanoma care pathway. METHODS: Qualitative methods were employed drawing upon the Theoretical Domains Framework (TDF) in the exploration and analysis. An inductive-deductive analysis was performed, with all data coded using a thematic then TDF framework. FINDINGS: 20 dermatologists, plastic surgeons, cancer nurse specialists, oncologists and histopathologists participated. Nine TDF domains were relevant to all health professional groups and the 'Skills' and 'Beliefs about Capabilities' domains were relevant only to histopathologists. 'Optimism' and 'Beliefs about consequences' were strong enablers particularly for clinicians. 'Environmental context and resources' (impact on pathology services) and 'Knowledge' (the need for robust evidence about the test reliability) were the main perceived barriers. 19 patients and one carer were interviewed. For the patients eight domains were relevant. ('Knowledge', 'Emotions', 'Beliefs about consequences', 'Social Role and identity', 'Behavioural regulation', 'Memory, attention and decision processes', 'Reinforcement' and 'Skills'). The consequences of the implementation of the test were reassurance about future risk, changes to the follow-up pathway on which there were mixed views, and the need to ensure they maintained self-surveillance (Beliefs about consequences). The test was acceptable to all patient interviewees but the resultant changes to management would need to be supported by mechanisms for fast-track back into the clinic, further information on self-surveillance and clear management plans at the time the result is conveyed (Behavioural regulation). CONCLUSIONS: Health professionals and patients perceived positive consequences-for patients and for health services-of adopting the test. However, its implementation would require exploration of the resource implications for pathology services, psychological support for patients with a high-risk test result and mechanisms to reassure and support patients should the test lead to reduced frequency or duration of follow-up. Exploring implementation at an early stage with health professionals presented challenges related to the provision of specific details of the test and its validation.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Lecouturier J, Bosomworth H, Labus M, Ellis RA, Lovat PE

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: PLoS ONE

Year: 2022

Volume: 17

Issue: 4

Online publication date: 04/04/2022

Acceptance date: 22/02/2022

Date deposited: 19/04/2022

ISSN (electronic): 1932-6203

Publisher: Public Library of Science


DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0265048

PubMed id: 35377887


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Funder referenceFunder name
II-LA-0417-20001National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)