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Protocol for a pragmatic cluster randomised controlled trial assessing the clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of Electronic RIsk-assessment for CAncer for patients in general practice (ERICA).

BMJ Open 2023 March 21
INTRODUCTION: The UK has worse cancer outcomes than most comparable countries, with a large contribution attributed to diagnostic delay. Electronic risk assessment tools (eRATs) have been developed to identify primary care patients with a ≥2% risk of cancer using features recorded in the electronic record.

METHODS AND ANALYSIS: This is a pragmatic cluster randomised controlled trial in English primary care. Individual general practices will be randomised in a 1:1 ratio to intervention (provision of eRATs for six common cancer sites) or to usual care. The primary outcome is cancer stage at diagnosis, dichotomised to stage 1 or 2 (early) or stage 3 or 4 (advanced) for these six cancers, assessed from National Cancer Registry data. Secondary outcomes include stage at diagnosis for a further six cancers without eRATs, use of urgent referral cancer pathways, total practice cancer diagnoses, routes to cancer diagnosis and 30-day and 1-year cancer survival. Economic and process evaluations will be performed along with service delivery modelling. The primary analysis explores the proportion of patients with early-stage cancer at diagnosis. The sample size calculation used an OR of 0.8 for a cancer being diagnosed at an advanced stage in the intervention arm compared with the control arm, equating to an absolute reduction of 4.8% as an incidence-weighted figure across the six cancers. This requires 530 practices overall, with the intervention active from April 2022 for 2 years.

ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: The trial has approval from London City and East Research Ethics Committee, reference number 19/LO/0615; protocol version 5.0, 9 May 2022. It is sponsored by the University of Exeter. Dissemination will be by journal publication, conferences, use of appropriate social media and direct sharing with cancer policymakers.


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