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J Oncol Pract. 2019 Jul 2:JOP1900157. doi: 10.1200/JOP.19.00157. [Epub ahead of print]

Has the Quality of Patient-Provider Communication About Survivorship Care Improved?

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American Cancer Society, Framingham, MA.
Veterans Health Administration, Los Angeles, CA.
Centers for Disease Prevention and Control, Atlanta, GA.
National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD.



The aim of the current study was to assess whether the quality of patient-provider communication on key elements of cancer survivorship care changed between 2011 and 2016.


Participating survivors completed the 2011 or 2016 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey Experiences with Cancer Surveys (N = 2,266). Participants reported whether any clinician ever discussed different aspects of survivorship care. Responses ranged from "Did not discuss at all" to "Discussed it with me in detail". Distributions of responses were compared among all respondents and only among those who had received cancer-directed treatment within 3 years of the survey.


In 2011, the percentage of survivors who did not receive detailed instructions on follow-up care, late or long-term adverse effects, lifestyle recommendations, and emotional or social needs were 35.1% (95% CI, 31.9% to 38.4%), 54.2% (95% CI, 50.7% to 57.6%), 58.9% (95% CI, 55.3% to 62.5%), and 69.2% (95% CI, 65.9% to 72.3%), respectively, and the corresponding proportions for 2016 were 35.4% (95% CI, 31.9% to 37.8%), 55.5% (95% CI, 51.7% to 59.3%), 57.8% (95% CI, 54.2% to 61.2%), and 68.2% (95% CI, 64.3% to 71.8%), respectively. Findings were similar among recently treated respondents. Only 24% in 2011 and 22% in 2016 reported having detailed discussions about all four topics. In 2016, 47.6% of patients (95% CI, 43.8% to 51.4%) reported not having detailed discussions with their providers about a summary of their cancer treatments.


Clear gaps in the quality of communication between survivors of cancer and providers persist. Our results highlight the need for continued efforts to improve communication between survivors of cancer and providers, including targeted interventions in key survivorship care areas.


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