Breast cancer survivors who receive tailored care plan more likely to improve adherence to recommended care, UCLA researchers find

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Low-income breast cancer survivors and their physicians are more likely to adhere to recommended care if they also receive counseling and a tailored survivorship care plan, a study led by UCLA researchers has found.

Women who received these interventions at 12 months reported an approximately 9.5 percent greater adherence to survivorship care recommendations than those who did not, said Dr. Patricia Ganz, director of Prevention and Control Research at the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center and a co-author of the study.

Physicians of the women who received interventions were also more likely to implement recommended survivorship care, said Dr. Rose C. Maly, lead author of the study and a Jonsson Cancer Center member.

Ganz and Maly will present the findings today at the ASCO Cancer Survivorship Symposium in San Francisco.

The nonprofit Institute of Medicine has long recommended the implementation of treatment summaries and survivorship care plans (TSSPs), with the objective, said Maly to improve ongoing clinical care and the coordination of care of cancer survivors, and address the immediate post-treatment and long-term effects of the disease.

Low-income women are also a population in particular need TSSPs because they tend to have less access to high quality healthcare, said Ganz.

Despite this, there has been little data collected from clinical trials to support the implementation of TSSPs.

“This study is very exciting as it clearly demonstrates that the combination of a survivorship care plan with counseling can empower low-income women as they transition from breast cancer patient to breast cancer survivor,” said Ganz.

Their study was conducted in 212 low-income women with stage 0–III breast cancer, who were between 10 and 24 months after their diagnosis, and at least one month past definitive treatment. The women randomly assigned to receive either a survivorship care intervention or just the usual care. The intervention group received usual care plus a one-hour in-person counseling session with a survivorship care nurse, who then drafted individualized TSSPs.

Patient adherence was 51.1 percent for those who received only usual care versus 60.6 percent in the intervention group. Several factors appeared to be associated with the better health outcomes, including a greater personal knowledge of breast cancer and improved self-efficacy for the women when interacting with their physician.

Physician implementation was 52.6 percent in the control group versus 64.6 percent in the intervention group.