In the Journals

ASCO updates survivorship care planning template

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October 14, 2014

ASCO today released a more user-friendly and comprehensive survivorship care planning template designed to ensure individuals who complete curative cancer therapy receive all appropriate follow-up care and are monitored for long-term treatment effects.

“The cleaner, simpler form will help health care professionals get survivorship care plans into the hands of patients,” Deborah K. Mayer, PhD, RN, professor in the school of nursing and director of cancer survivorship at University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and chair of the ASCO Survivorship Care Plan Working Group, said in a press release. “At the end of their treatment, patients should expect to receive a survivorship care plan, but if they don’t get one, they should ask their doctor or nurse for one.”

Deborah K. Mayer, PhD, RN

Deborah K. Mayer

The ASCO survivorship care plan consists of a treatment summary and a follow-up care plan intended to coordinate care between oncologists and primary care providers (PCPs) for patients who completed active therapy with curative intent.

ASCO suggests a treatment summary includes a patient’s diagnostic and staging information, as well as their provider and cancer center contact information. The treatment summary also should contain information about previous surgery, radiation therapy, systemic therapy and any persisting adverse effects from these regimens.

The template for the follow-up care plan includes information about adjuvant treatment and a schedule of future clinical visits. The plan also should delineate where and when patients will undergo cancer recurrence surveillance tests, as well as cancer screening if their treatment was associated with risks for other malignancies.

Lists of late or long-term effects a patient might experience from their treatment or disease — as well as emotional, work/employment, financial or insurance issues that might arise during this time —are in the template. The plan also includes information about general health promotion.

Implementation

Researchers evaluated the time and resources utilized in the implementation of the survivorship care template in 11 practice sites. The practices rated their experiences with the template from 1 to 5, with 5 as the highest score.

Scores showed participating practices agreed the template includes important elements for survivorship care (score, 4.5) and that it will be useful (4.7). Scores were lower, but still on the upper end, for questions related to time requirements (3.5), ease with which the template can be completed (3.5), ease with which information can be found (4.1) and clarity (3.9).

The mean time to complete the plan was 30 minutes.

“It is important to demonstrate the value of survivorship care plans to survivors, oncology providers, PCPs and other providers,” Mayer and colleagues concluded. “Important endpoints include improved knowledge of and adherence to appropriate follow-up, better identification and management of long-term and late effects, and improved coordination among cancer and noncancer providers. Once survivorship care plans are adopted on a wider scale, their value for improving the process of survivorship care planning should be evaluated, and other questions regarding improved outcomes can and must be addressed by well-designed and executed research and implementation studies.”

Disclosure: One researcher reports consultant/advisory roles with, research funding from and stock ownership in Express Scripts, Genentech, Immunomedics, Merck, Oncolytics Biotech, Walgreens and WellPoint.

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