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Knowledge and Preferences of Primary Care Providers in Delivering Head and Neck Cancer Survivorship Care.
Berkowitz C, Allen DH, Tenhover J, Zullig LL, Ragsdale J, Fischer JE, Pollak KI, Koontz BF. Knowledge and Preferences of Primary Care Providers in Delivering Head and Neck Cancer Survivorship Care. Journal of Cancer Education : The Official Journal of The American Association For Cancer Education. 2018 Dec 1; 33(6):1323-1327.
Long-term care for head and neck cancer (HNC) survivors is complex and requires coordination among multiple providers. Clinical practice guidelines highlight the role of primary care providers (PCPs) in screening for secondary cancer/recurrence, assessment of late/long-term side effects, and referrals for appropriate specialty management of toxicity. However, these responsibilities may be difficult to meet within the scope of primary care practice. We conducted this study to explore preferences, comfort, and knowledge of PCPs in the care of HNC survivors. We piloted a 40-item web-based survey developed with oncologist and PCP input targeted for family medicine and internal medicine providers. Responses were collected within a single university health system over 2 months. PCPs (n = 28; RR = 11.3%) were interested in learning about health promotion after cancer treatment (89%) and generally agree that their current practice patterns address healthy lifestyle behaviors (82%). However, only 32% of PCPs felt confident they could manage late/long-term side effects of chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery. Only 29% felt confident they could provide appropriate cancer screening. Looking at shared care responsibilities with oncology providers, PCPs perceived being responsible for 30% of care in the first year after treatment and 81% of care after 5 years. Seventy-one percent of PCPs agreed that oncologists provided them necessary information, yet 32% of PCPs found it difficult to coordinate with cancer providers. While these PCPs perceive increased care responsibility for long-term survivors, most are uncomfortable screening for recurrence and managing late/long-term side effects. Education and mutual coordination between PCPs and oncology providers may improve survivor care.