Patient-Provider Communication About Survivorship Needs to Improve

A study published in the Journal of Oncology Practice observed that gaps in the quality of communication between cancer survivors and providers persist.

Survivors (n=2,266) who participated in the study completed the 2011 or 2016 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey Experiences with Cancer Surveys. Participants reported on their discussions with providers regarding different aspects of survivorship care. Responses ranged from “did not discuss at all” to “discussed it with me in detail.”

In 2011, many survivors reported not receiving detailed instructions on follow-up care (35.1%; 95% CI, 31.9-38.4), late or long-term adverse events (AEs; 54.2%; 95% CI, 50.7-57.6), lifestyle recommendations (58.9%; 95% CI, 55.3-62.5), and emotional or social needs (69.2%; 95% CI, 65.9-72.3).

Similar responses five years later

By 2016, these numbers had not changed much; many survivors reported not receiving detailed instructions on follow-up care (35.4%; 95% CI, 31.9-37.8), late or long-term AEs (55.5%; 95% CI, 51.7-59.3), lifestyle recommendations (57.8%; 95% CI, 54.2-61.2), and emotional or social needs (68.2%; 95% CI, 64.3-71.8).

These outcomes were similar among recently treated respondents.

In 2011 and 2016, just 24% and 22% of patients, respectively, reported having detailed discussions about all four topics. In 2016, 47.6% of patients (95% CI, 43.8-51.4) reported not having detailed discussions with their providers about a summary of their cancer treatments.

“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,” the researchers concluded.