Health Services Research & Development

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Wallner LP, Li Y, McLeod MC, Gargaro J, Kurian AW, Jagsi R, Radhakrishnan A, Hamilton AS, Ward KC, Hawley ST, Katz SJ. Primary care provider-reported involvement in breast cancer treatment decisions. Cancer. 2019 Jun 1; 125(11):1815-1822.
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Abstract: BACKGROUND: Treatment decisions for patients with early-stage breast cancer often involve discussions with multiple oncology providers. However, the extent to which primary care providers (PCPs) are involved in initial treatment decisions remains unknown. METHODS: A stratified random sample of PCPs identified by newly diagnosed patients with early-stage breast cancer from the Georgia and Los Angeles Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results registries were surveyed (n = 517; a 61% response rate). PCPs were asked how frequently they discussed surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy options with patients; how comfortable they were with these discussions; whether they had the necessary knowledge to participate in decision making; and what their confidence was in their ability to help (on 5-item Likert-type scales). Multivariate logistic regression was used to identify PCP-reported attitudes associated with more PCP participation in each treatment decision. RESULTS: In this sample, 34% of PCPs reported that they discussed surgery, 23% discussed radiation, and 22% discussed chemotherapy options with their patients. Of those who reported more involvement in surgical decisions, 22% reported that they were not comfortable having a discussion, and 17% did not feel that they had the necessary knowledge to participate in treatment decision making. PCPs who positively appraised their ability to participate were more likely to participate in all 3 decisions (odds ratio [OR] for surgery, 6.01; 95% confidence interval [CI], 4.16-8.68; OR for radiation, 8.37; 95% CI, 5.16-13.58; OR for chemotherapy, 6.56; 95% CI, 4.23-10.17). CONCLUSIONS: A third of PCPs reported participating in breast cancer treatment decisions, yet gaps in their knowledge about decision making and in their confidence in their ability to help exist. Efforts to increase PCPs' knowledge about breast cancer treatment options may be warranted.