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Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2012 Oct;21(10):1645-54. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-12-0532.

Boston Patient Navigation Research Program: the impact of navigation on time to diagnostic resolution after abnormal cancer screening.

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Women's Health Unit, Section of General Internal Medicine, Evans Department of Medicine, Boston Medical Center, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA 02118, USA.



There is a need for controlled studies to assess the impact of patient navigation in vulnerable cancer populations.


Boston Patient Navigation Research Program conducted a quasi-experimental patient navigation intervention across six federally qualified inner-city community health centers, three assigned to a breast cancer navigation intervention and three assigned to a cervical cancer navigation intervention; each group then served as the control for the other. Eligible women had an abnormal breast or cervical cancer screening test conducted at one of the participating health centers during a baseline (2004-2005) or intervention period (2007-2008). Kaplan-Meier survival curves and proportional hazards regression examined the effect of patient navigation on time to definitive diagnosis, adjusting for covariates, clustering by clinic and differences between the baseline and intervention period.


We enrolled 997 subjects in the baseline period and 3,041 subjects during the intervention period, of whom 1,497 were in the navigated arm, and 1,544 in the control arm. There was a significant decrease in time to diagnosis for subjects in the navigated group compared with controls among those with a cervical screening abnormality [aHR 1.46; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.1-1.9]; and among those with a breast cancer screening abnormality that resolved after 60 days (aHR 1.40; 95% CI, 1.1-1.9), with no differences before 60 days.


This study documents a benefit of patient navigation on time to diagnosis among a racially/ethnically diverse inner city population.


Patient navigation may address cancer health disparities by reducing time to diagnosis following an abnormal cancer-screening event.

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