Survivorship Care Plans Provide Limited Improvement in Knowledge Among Early-Stage Breast Cancer Survivors

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Researchers employed two surveys to measure how knowledgeable patients were on issues related to individual diagnosis and treatment.
Researchers employed two surveys to measure how knowledgeable patients were on issues related to individual diagnosis and treatment.

Results of a study of patients with early-stage breast cancer who had completed active primary cancer treatment within 2 years and were randomly assigned to receive an individualized survivorship care plan (SCP) either immediately or at 4 weeks showed a small, significant improvement (4%; P <.001) in survivor knowledge at 12-weeks when both groups were combined. This study was published in Cancer.

A report issued in 2006 by the Institute of Medicine titled From Cancer Patient to Cancer Survivor: Lost in Transition included the recommendation that each cancer survivor should receive an individualized SCP that includes details related to his or her cancer diagnosis and treatment, as well as recommendations for follow-up care to monitor and maintain health. However, most studies that have evaluated the benefits of SCPs have been small and/or without a control group.

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For this study, 127 patients with early-stage (0-III) breast cancer from 2 cancer centers individualized SCPs at baseline or 4 weeks (delayed). Two surveys, the modified Wisconsin Survey of Cancer Diagnosis and Management in Breast Cancer and the Preparing for Life As a New Survivor survey, were used to evaluate how knowledgeable patients were on issues related to individual diagnosis and treatment, relevant treatment-related side effects, as well as how satisfied they were with their current care. The surveys were administered at baseline, and at 4 and 12 weeks. For patients in the delayed arm, administration of the surveys at 4 weeks occurred prior to receipt of the SCP.

The primary outcome of the study, change in knowledge at 4 weeks, was not met when the 2 arms were compared. The authors speculated that improvement of knowledge at 12, but not 4, weeks from baseline for the overall group was likely related to multiple administrations of the survey.

“If improved survivor knowledge is a goal, then strategies beyond the 1-time provision and review of an SCP should be explored,” the authors concluded.

Reference

Tevaarwerk AJ, Hocking WG, Buhr KA, et al.  A randomized trial of immediate versus delayed survivorship care plan receipt on patient satisfaction and knowledge of diagnosis and treatment [published online January 28, 2019]. Cancer. doi: 10.1002/cncr.31875.

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