A medical research group was in the process of developing a new TEST procedure for the potential diagnosis of prostate cancer. At key points during the development, qualitative research was conducted in order to obtain feedback to help guide next steps.
A series of one-hour in-depth interviews was conducted among urologists in order to explore their attitudes toward and use of current procedures for diagnosing prostate cancer (digital rectum exam, blood test/PSA, biopsy), and gain reaction to the new TEST being developed.
In-depth interviews were chosen, because they are ideal for process oriented topics such as this, when it is critical to drill deep for information, and to obtain feedback not influenced by the opinions of others. And, because medical professionals’ busy schedules make them difficult to recruit, it was also much easier for us to work around individuals’ calendars.
The conversation regarding their current practice in diagnosis and general views on available diagnostic options, served to provide great context when it came to their assessment of the new TEST.
- Urologists completed and explained a very detailed “pathway worksheet” during the interview that brought to life the step by step procedure they follow during a diagnosis, and illustrated how at each fork, decisions are made to send patients one direction or another as they attempt to confirm or eliminate suspicions
- Participants were then asked to respond to a series of hypothetical patient vignettes, again to understand how they might initially manage each case
- The TEST process was then introduced and explained. After gaining initial reactions to it, we revisited the hypothetical patient vignettes to see how, if at all, the urologist’s decision making might be influenced by the TEST
- Participants were then given the opportunity to critique the TEST, and offer their suggestions for next steps in its ongoing development
This detailed, in-depth exploration was ideally suited to meet objectives, as the medical research group was able to absorb the learning at each step and make key adjustments to the TEST. The new diagnosis procedure is still under development at this time.