OBJECTIVES: To analyse spatial and temporal patterns in patients referred to a cancer genetics service in order to monitor service utilization and accessibility.
METHODS: Postcodes of patients during a 4-year period were used to examine spatial patterns using a Geographical Information System (GIS). Referral rates were compared visually and statistically to explore yearly variation for administrative areas in Wales.
RESULTS: There has been a four-fold increase in actual referrals to the service over the period of study. The variance between unitary authority referral rates has decreased from the inception of the service from an almost ten-fold difference between lowest and highest in year 1 to less than a three-fold difference in year 4.
CONCLUSIONS: This study shows the potential of GIS to highlight spatial variations in referral rates across Wales. Although the disparity in referral rates has decreased, trends in referral rates are not consistent. Ongoing research will examine those referral and referrer characteristics affecting uptake.