Conference Coverage

Impact of an Educational Seminar Series for VA Providers in Personalized Cancer Care Across Hematologic and Solid Tumors

Abstract: 2018 AVAHO Meeting


Purpose/Rationale: To address educational needs of hematology/oncology providers in VA and other federal settings, we conducted a national series of accredited 6-hour seminars. Through surveys, we assessed baseline barriers and educational outcomes.

Background: Recent landmark advances in cancer therapies engender pressing needs for education among VA providers.

Methods: The educational seminars were held in 9 US cities with large VA facilities between November 2017 and March 2018. The agenda, covering hematologic malignancies (3 hours) and solid tumors (3 hours), emphasized evidenced-based and guideline-directed uses of new cancer therapies. Before and after the seminars, participants completed surveys designed to assess self-reported barriers, confidence, and competence regarding personalized medicine approaches to implementing the therapies.

Results: Survey respondents (n = 639) were physicians (29%), pharmacists (23%), nurses (21%), physician assistants (18%), and nurse practitioners (9%) who practice in VA clinics and other federal settings; providers reported seeing an average of 103 oncology patients per month. On the pre-seminar survey, gaps were indicated by relatively small proportions of respondents who reported that their decision-making involving new cancer therapies is guided by genetic/prognostic testing (21%) and assessing patientspecific characteristics including comorbidities (38%); 42% reported having inadequate staff training for personalized hematology/oncology care.

Across the pre- to post-seminar surveys, there were significant increases (P < .0001 for all comparisons) in the proportions of respondents who reported: (1) high confidence in using immunotherapies (17% to 38%), targeted therapies (19% to 37%), and hormonal therapies (20% to 36%); and (2) high competence in performing various clinical skills, including identifying genetic tests for patients with acute myeloid leukemia (8% to 42%), interpreting genetic tests to support personalized treatment decision-making for patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (7% to 42%), recognizing and managing adverse events associated with targeted therapies (15% to 48%), and applying precision medicine principles in managing patients with highgrade gliomas (17% to 44%).

Conclusions/Implications: These findings indicate the positive impact of intensive education on self-reported confidence and competence among VA providers in applying personalized medicine approaches to implementing new cancer therapies. We will present additional baseline barriers and educational outcomes, as well as the seminar participants’ gap-targeted action plans for improvement.

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