Patients, Caregivers Express Need for Improved Survivorship Care in Gynecologic Oncology

02/21/18

Health care providers and patients have identified a need for further resources to support survivorship care in gynecologic oncology, according to a presentation given at the 2018 ASCO Cancer Survivorship Symposium (February 16-17, 2018; Orlando, FL).

Widespread recommendation of survivorship care plans has occurred over the past decade. However, evidence-based content and processes for providing survivorship care planning—particularly in gynecologic oncology—remains undefined.

A group of international researchers led by Belle Hadewijch de Rooij, Netherlands Comprehensive Cancer Organization (IKNL) conducted a qualitative study to characterize the challenges experienced in care after treatment of gynecological cancer and preferences for survivorship care planning among patients, caregivers, and health care providers. From July to August 2017, researchers conducted interviews at a large academic hospital in the United States among 13 patients that ended treatment within 12 months for ovarian, endometrial, cervical, or vulvar cancer; nine caregivers; and eight health care providers (eg, oncologists, nurses, and fellows).

Researchers noted that the main themes were identified using descriptive content analysis.

Approximately 91% of patients and caregivers expressed satisfaction for survivorship care, though all of the patients and caregivers reported that remaining needs and ongoing issues—such as distressing symptoms and mood—remained unaddressed. Almost all individuals (95%) reported a desire for more information on how to address these needs, including issues related to adverse events (59%), follow-up planning (32%), and psychological assistance (23%).

Survivorship care planning preferences differed across individuals with respect to content, timing, and mode of delivery. Additionally, 14% of patients did not want a survivorship care plan at all.

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Health care providers expressed that they experience challenges in communicating with patients about survivorship, want to focus more on improving quality of life as opposed to the likelihood of disease recurrence, do not currently provide formal survivorship care plans, and want disease-specific tailored plans to support their survivorship care.

“The variation of disease types and patient and caregiver needs in this field requires multi-faceted, tailored survivorship care planning,” researchers concluded.—Zachary Bessette