Publication Abstract

Authors: Forsythe LP, Arora NK, Alfano CM, Weaver KE, Hamilton AS, Aziz N, Rowland JH

Title: Role of oncologists and primary care physicians in providing follow-up care to non-Hodgkin lymphoma survivors within 5 years of diagnosis: a population-based study.

Journal: Support Care Cancer 22(6):1509-17

Date: 2014 Jun

Abstract: PURPOSE: The growing population of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) survivors living longer with high physical and psychological treatment burden, in combination with the projected shortage of medical professionals, necessitates redesigning cancer follow-up care. This study examined follow-up care patterns, factors associated with follow-up care, and attitudes towards follow-up care among NHL survivors. METHODS: We surveyed survivors of aggressive NHL 2 to 5 years post-diagnosis (N = 363) using a population-based sample from the Los Angeles County Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results registry. RESULTS: Most survivors (82 %) received cancer-related follow-up care in the past year from an oncologist. History of recurrence, more comorbidities, more symptoms, and a shorter survivor-oncologist relationship were associated with high-frequency care with the oncologist [(≥5 visits in the past year), p < 0.05]. Many survivors followed up by oncologists (71 %) also saw a primary care provider (PCP) and 47 % also saw both a PCP and other specialists. Factors associated with seeing a PCP in addition to an oncologist included more symptoms, more health information needs, no history of recurrence, perceived excellent quality of cancer follow-up care, and fewer visits with the oncologist (p < 0.05). Survivors generally reported high reassurance from, and low negative anticipation towards, follow-up care. CONCLUSIONS: The high proportion of NHL survivors receiving care from multiple physicians, and the sizable proportion (∼30 %) who have not recently seen a PCP, suggests that coordinating care across specialties is critical to ensure comprehensive, non-duplicative care. Understanding factors associated with cancer-related follow-up is a first step towards more effective, efficient, patient-centered care.