SAN FRANCISCO, CA—Survivorship care plans led to improved outcomes in a randomized, controlled trial reported at the 2016 Cancer Survivorship Symposium. The authors stated that this is the first randomized clinical trial to show significantly improved patient outcomes from survivorship care plans.

“Low-income women tend to have less access to high-quality health care, along with unique needs and concerns,” said Rose C. Maly, MD, MSPH, an associate professor of family medicine at the University of California Los Angeles. “This personalized intervention would be of greatest benefit to this vulnerable group, and it could be adapted for use with other types of cancer.”

Survivor health outcomes are affected by survivors’ breast cancer knowledge, confidence in interacting with physicians, and having a usual source of health care (eg, primary care provider).

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The study involved 212 low-income women with stage 0-III breast cancer. They were randomized to receive a survivorship care intervention or usual care. The intervention group completed a questionnaire assessing their needs and concerns, such as hot flashes, memory problems, weight gain, and sexual dysfunction, then they received recommendations from the researchers on further care.

The personalized survivorship care plans were drafted by a survivorship care nurse and provided to both the patient and their physicians of record (oncologist, surgeon, primary care physician). The plans included recommendations for further care, personalized breast cancer treatment summaries, and a list of resources such as patient support groups.

The patients who received the survivorship care intervention also received an hour-long counseling session with the survivorship care nurse. The session included role-play that coached the women on how to ask their physicians to implement the survivorship care recommendations.

At 12 months, patients in the intervention group reported approximately 9.5% greater adherence to survivorship care recommendations than those in the usual care group. Patient adherence rates were 51.1 % and 60.6% in the control and intervention groups, respectively.

The authors stated that health outcomes can ultimately be improved through increasing patient self-efficacy in interacting with physicians, breast cancer knowledge, and ensuring a usual source of care.