Providing health care for patients with childhood cancer and survivors: A survey of pediatricprimary care providers

BACKGROUND: 

The current study was conducted to assess self-reported comfort levels of pediatric primary care providers (PCPs) in providing acute medical care to patients with childhood cancer who currently were receiving therapy (on-therapy patients) and healthmaintenance care to childhood cancer survivors, independently and in conjunction with pediatric oncologists, along with confidence levels regarding knowledge about immunizations for survivors. All levels were measured using 7-point Likert scales.

METHODS: 

A cross-sectional, 23-item survey mailed to practicing PCPs affiliated with a tertiary children’s hospital was analyzed.

RESULTS: 

The response rate was 64.4% (259 of 402 eligible PCPs). The mean PCP comfort level was higher when collaborating with a pediatric oncologist to provide acute medical care for on-therapy patients and health maintenance care for childhood cancer survivors(mean ratings of 6.0 ± 1.5 and 6.4 ± 1.3, respectively) compared with independently providing such care (mean ratings of 4.6 ± 1.8 and 5.0 ± 1.7, respectively; P < .0001). Only approximately 30% of PCPs were confident in their knowledge regarding immunizations for survivors. Certain factors were found to be associated with PCP comfort in providing care in conjunction with a pediatric oncologist. For acute care, these factors were rural location compared with urban location (odds ratio [OR], 5.0; 95% CI, 1.9-13.1 [P = .03]) and having cared for ≥6 on-therapy patients within the past year versus none (OR, 3.8; 95% CI, 1.9-7.5 [P = .0001]). For survivor healthmaintenance care, practice location <50 miles from pediatric oncology specialty care versus ≥50 miles was the only factor found to be associated with PCP comfort (OR, 2.8; 95% CI, 1.3-6.1 [P = .009]).

CONCLUSIONS: 

The findings of the current study underscore the need for collaboration between pediatric oncologists and PCPs when caring for children with cancer across the spectrum of care.