Associations between general practice characteristics and chest X-ray rate: an observational study

Stephen H. Bradley, Matthew Barclay, Benjamin Cornwell, Gary A. Abel, Matthew Ej Callister, Mayam Gomez-Cano, Thomas Round, Bethany Shinkins, Richard D. Neal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Chest X-ray (CXR) is the first-line test for lung cancer in many settings. Previous research has suggested that higher utilisation of CXR is associated with improved outcomes. AIM: To explore the associations between characteristics of general practices and frequency of investigation with CXR. DESIGN AND SETTING: Retrospective observational study of English general practices. METHOD: A database was constructed of English general practices containing number of CXRs requested and data on practices for 2018, including patient and staff demographics, smoking prevalence, deprivation, and patient satisfaction indicators. Mixed-effects Poisson modelling was used to account for variation because of chance and to estimate the amount of remaining variation that could be attributed to practice and population characteristics. RESULTS: There was substantial variation in GP CXR rates (median 34 per 1000 patients, interquartile range 26-43). Only 18% of between-practice variance in CXR rate was accounted for by recorded characteristics. Higher practice scores for continuity and communication skills, and higher proportions of smokers, Asian and mixed ethnic groups, and patients aged >65 years were associated with increased CXR rates. Higher patient satisfaction scores for access and greater proportions of male patients and patients of Black ethnicity were associated with lower CXR rates. CONCLUSION: Substantial variation was found in CXR rates beyond that expected by chance, which could not be accounted for by practices' recorded characteristics. As other research has indicated that increasing CXR rates can lead to earlier detection, supporting practices that currently investigate infrequently could be an effective strategy to improve lung cancer outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e34-e42
JournalThe British journal of general practice : the journal of the Royal College of General Practitioners
Issue number714
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022


  • cancer diagnosis
  • chest X-ray
  • general practice
  • lung cancer
  • outcome assessment, health care
  • referral and consultation


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