Overall, patients with cancer in rural areas may receive more timely care compared with those in urban areas at time of diagnosis, but race/ethnicity may play a role in access to care, according to a study published in Cancer

Previous studies have suggested that rural patients with cancer experience significant challenges in accessing quality healthcare, but with increasing attention to value-based payment models, further clarity regarding the quality of care is warranted. 

In this study, researchers accessed the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results –Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (SEER‐CAHPS) linked data and experience surveys to analyze the timeliness and ease of getting care among patients living in urban and rural environments. A total of 6140 and 686 patients with breast, lung, colorectal, or prostate cancers were identified living in urban and rural areas, respectively. 

Contrary to previous findings, results showed that patients living in urban areas rated the timeliness of receiving care as significantly lower compared with those living in rural areas (Getting Care Quickly; P=.02). 

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There were no significant differences in the “Getting Needed Care” measure in the study overall, but patients who identified as non-Hispanic black and Hispanic respondents rated their care significantly lower in rural areas compared with urban areas (P=.04). 

The authors concluded that “because access to care could be an important component influencing adherence to treatment and follow‐up care, interventions to address barriers should be developed and tested to enhance the delivery of quality cancer care.”

Reference

Mollica MA, Weaver KE, McNeel TS, Kent EE. Examining urban and rural differences in perceived timeliness of care among cancer patients: A SEER‐CAHPS study[published online June 7, 2018]. Cancer. doi: 10.1002/cncr.31541