Timely access to oncology healthcare providers for advice about chemotherapy-related symptom management is a provincial priority in Ontario, Canada. The aim is for all chemotherapy patients to have access to an oncology care provider for urgent advice thereby reducing unscheduled visits such as emergency room (ER) attendance and hospitalizations which are common during chemotherapy. Here, we explore patients’ knowledge about how to access urgent advice for side effects.
Between September and November 2016, 4 hospitals providing systemic therapy in Toronto, Canada (one academic & three community centers) performed a program evaluation for quality improvement purposes. A paper survey was developed. Patients with breast, lung, gastrointestinal, hematological cancers and sarcoma ≤4 weeks after their first chemotherapy cycle were questioned in chemotherapy day units. The survey explored patients’ knowledge about where to get help for chemotherapy related side effects at different time points (weekdays 9am-5pm, weekdays 5pm-9am, weekends). Descriptive statistics and Chi square were used to describe results.
A total of 140 surveys were administered to 32 lung, 38 breast, 39 GI, 22 hematology and 9 sarcoma patients. Overall, 81% of patients stated they knew where to go to get help for side effects; 56% of patients were told where to get help by a staff member, usually a nurse (44%) or oncologist (23%), while 19% reported they were not told where to get help by anyone. Across all time points the majority of patients stated they would present to ER for side effect management (41, 76 & 81% respectively). The only exception was the academic hospital where 69% of patients reported calling the clinic/nursing telephone line on weekdays 9am-5pm (comparison between academic and community centers p
Significant gaps in patient care and education are highlighted by these results. Site specific quality improvement projects are currently underway to address these findings prior to re-administering the survey.
Clinical trial identification
Legal entity responsible for the study
Regional Systemic therapy program
All authors have declared no conflicts of interest.