Laura Boswell


My research project

My qualifications

BA (Hons) Sociology
The University of Sussex
MSc Psychology (Conversion)
The University of Glasgow


Georgia B Black, Laura Boswell, Jenny Harris, Katriina L Whitaker (2023)What causes delays in diagnosing blood cancers? A rapid review of the evidence, In: Primary health care research & development24e26

We undertook a rapid review of literature relating to the diagnosis of blood cancers, to find out what factors contribute to delays in diagnosis, including symptom recognition, appraisal and help-seeking behaviours. We used rapid review methodology following Tricco to synthesise current literature from two electronic databases. We searched for studies about symptom appraisal help-seeking for all blood cancers published between 2001 and 2021, written in English. Fifteen studies were included in the review, of which 10 were published in the United Kingdom. We found a number of factors associated with delays in blood cancer diagnosis. These included patient factors such as gender, age and ethnicity, as well as health system factors such as poor communication and seeing a locum clinician in primary care. A narrative synthesis of the evidence produced four types of symptom interpretation by patients: (1) symptoms compatible with normal state of health, (2) event-linked problems, (3) mild or chronic illness and (4) non-specific unwell state. These four interpretations were linked to different help-seeking behaviours. After seeking help, patients often experienced delays due to healthcare professionals' (HCPs') non-serious interpretation of symptoms, misleading blood tests, discontinuity of care and other barriers in the diagnostic pathway. Blood cancers are difficult to diagnose due to non-specific heterogeneous symptoms, and this is reflected in how those symptoms are interpreted by patients and managed by HCPs. It is important to understand how different interpretations affect delays in help-seeking, and what HCPs can do to support timely follow-up for patients.