Kelly M. Kenzik | Health care use during cancer survivorship: Review of 5 years of evidence | Cancer | First published: 18 December 2018
Improvements in treatment strategies have resulted in increasing survival rates among patients diagnosed with cancer but also result in a growing population of individuals who have greater health care needs. These needs will persist from diagnosis throughout the continuing phase of care, or the survivorship phase.
To better define models of survivorship care, there must be a strong evidence base in survivor health care use patterns. The objective of this review, which covers studies from 2012 to January 2018, was to evaluate the available evidence on patterns of health care visits among survivors of adult cancers and to understand what is known about the rate of health care visits, the physician specialties associated with these visits, and/or the types health care settings (eg, outpatient, emergency room).
The findings underscore the importance of primary care, with the majority of studies reporting that more than 90% of survivors visited a primary care provider in the prior year. Visits to oncologists and/or other physician specialties were positively associated with receiving cancer screenings and obtaining quality care for noncancer‐related conditions. High care density/low care fragmentation between physician specialties had lower costs and a lower likelihood of redundant health care utilization.
The follow‐up in almost all studies was 3 years, providing short‐term evidence; however, as the survivorship period lengthens with improved treatments, longer follow‐up will be required. The long‐term patterns with which survivors of cancer engage the health care system are critical to designing long‐term follow‐up care plans that are effective in addressing the complex morbidity that survivors experience.