From the Journals

Gaps in patient-provider survivorship communication persist



There has been little to no recent improvement in the large share of cancer patients who are not receiving detailed information about survivorship care, suggests a nationally representative cross-sectional survey.

In 2006, the Institute of Medicine issued a seminal report recommending survivorship care planning to address the special needs of this patient population, noted the investigators, led by Ashish Rai, PhD, American Cancer Society, Framingham, Mass. Other organizations have since issued guidelines and policies in this area.

For the study, Dr. Rai and colleagues analyzed data from 2,266 survivors who completed the 2011 or 2016 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey – Experiences with Cancer questionnaire. Survivors were asked whether any clinician had ever discussed various aspects of survivorship care; responses were dichotomized as having had detailed discussion versus not (brief or no discussion, or not remembering).

Between 2011 and 2016, there was minimal change in the percentage of survivors who reported not receiving detailed information on follow-up care (from 35.1% to 35.4%), late or long-term adverse effects (from 54.2% to 55.5%), lifestyle recommendations (from 58.9% to 57.8%), and emotional or social needs (from 69.2% to 68.2%), the investigators wrote. Their report is in Journal of Oncology Practice.

When analyses were restricted to only those survivors who had received cancer-directed treatment within 3 years of the survey, findings were essentially the same.

About one-quarter of survivors reported having detailed discussions about all four topics in both 2011 (24.4%) and 2016 (21.9%).

In 2016, nearly half of survivors, 47.6%, reported not having detailed discussions with their providers about a summary of their cancer treatments. (This question was not asked in 2011.)

“Despite national efforts and organizations promoting survivorship care planning and highlighting the need for improved quality of survivorship care delivery, clear gaps in quality of communication between survivors of cancer and providers persist,” Dr. Rai and colleagues said.

“Continued efforts are needed to promote communication about survivorship issues, including implementation and evaluation of targeted interventions in key survivorship care areas,” they recommended. “These interventions may consist of furnishing guidance on optimal ways to identify and address survivors’ communication needs, streamlining the flow of information across provider types, ensuring better integration of primary care providers with the survivorship care paradigm, and augmenting the use of health information technology for collection and dissemination of information across the cancer control continuum.”

Dr. Rai did not disclose any relevant conflicts of interest. The study did not receive specific funding.

SOURCE: Rai A et al. J Oncol Pract. 2019 July 2. doi: 10.1200/JOP.19.00157.

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