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Transportation: a vehicle or roadblock to cancer care for VA patients with colorectal cancer?

Zullig LL, Jackson GL, Provenzale D, Griffin JM, Phelan S, van Ryn M. Transportation: a vehicle or roadblock to cancer care for VA patients with colorectal cancer? Clinical Colorectal Cancer. 2012 Mar 1; 11(1):60-5.

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BACKGROUND: Patients must have transportation to the treatment site before they can access appropriate cancer care. This article describes factors associated with patients experiencing transportation-related barriers to accessing cancer care. PATIENTS AND METHODS: The Cancer Care Assessment and Responsive Evaluation Studies (C-CARES) questionnaire was mailed to Veterans Affairs (VA) patients with colorectal cancer (CRC) during the fall of 2009. Eligible patients were diagnosed at any VA facility in 2008, they were men, and alive at the time of the mailing. A total of 1409 surveys were returned (approximately 67% response rate). To assess transportation barriers, patients were asked how often it was difficult to get transportation to or from treatment. Symptoms were assessed using validated Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) scales for fatigue, pain, and depression. Multivariate logistic regression was used to examine determinants of transportation barriers. RESULTS: A minority of respondents (19%) reported transportation barriers. Patients experiencing pain (OR, 1.04; 95% CI, 1.02-1.06) had greater odds of transportation barriers than patients without this symptom. Patients who reported no primary social support (OR, 6.13; 95% CI, 3.10-12.14) or nonspousal support (OR, 2.00; 95% CI, 1.40-2.87) were more likely to experience transportation barriers than patients whose spouses provided social support. DISCUSSION: Patients with uncontrolled pain or less social support have greater odds of transportation barriers. The directional association between social support, symptoms, and transportation cannot be determined in this data. CONCLUSION: Inquiring about accessible transportation should become a routine part of cancer care, particularly for patients with known risk factors.

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