A national survey of primary care physicians: Perceptions and practices of low-dose CT lung cancer screening

Jan M. Eberth, Karen Kane McDonnell, Erica Sercy, Samira Khan, Scott M. Strayer, Amy C. Dievendorf, Reginald F. Munden, Sally W. Vernon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Soon after the National Lung Screening Trial, organizations began to endorse low-dose computed tomography (LCDT) screening for lung cancer in high-risk patients. Concerns about the risks versus benefits of screening, as well as the logistics of identifying and referring eligible patients, remained among physicians. This study aimed to examine primary care physicians' knowledge, attitudes, referral practices, and associated barriers regarding LDCT screening. We administered a national survey of primary care physicians in the United States between September 2016 and April 2017. Physicians received up to 3 mailings, 1 follow-up email, and received varying incentives to complete the survey. Overall, 293 physicians participated, for a response rate of 13%. We used weighted descriptive statistics to characterize participants and their responses. Over half of the respondents correctly reported that the US Preventive Services Task Force recommends LDCT screening for high-risk patients. Screening recommendations for patients not meeting high-risk criteria varied. Although 75% agreed that the benefits of LDCT screening outweigh the risks, fewer agreed that there is substantial evidence that screening reduces mortality (50%). The most commonly reported barriers to ordering screening included prior authorization requirements (57%), lack of insurance coverage (53%), and coverage denials (31%). The most frequently cited barrier to conducting LDCT screening shared decision making was patients' competing health priorities (42%). Given the impact of physician recommendations on cancer screening utilization, further understanding of physicians' LDCT screening attitudes and shared decision-making practices is needed. Clinical practice and policy changes are also needed to engage more patients in screening discussions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-99
Number of pages7
JournalPreventive Medicine Reports
StatePublished - Sep 2018


  • Computed tomography
  • Early detection of cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Mass screening
  • Physicians

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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