Survey Asks European Physicians About Blood Supply Shortages and Factors That Affect Outcomes in Patients with MDS

Many patients with myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are dependent on blood transfusions. Therefore, sufficient blood supply is essential for the care of this patient population.

According to researchers who presented at the all-virtual 62nd ASH Annual Meeting & Exposition, “A shortage of blood supply may create unnecessary burden, such as treatment delay, worsened quality of life, or increased healthcare utilization.”

The team, including researchers from King’s College Hospital in London and University Hospital Düsseldorf in Germany, sought to explore physicians’ experiences with shortages in blood and how they may delay red blood cell transfusion patient with MDS. The study also examined physicians’ perspectives on the factors that affect outcomes in these patients.

The researchers developed a 40-minute physician survey, then interviewed physicians in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom (three in each country, in their native languages) to validate and finalize the tool. Then the researchers distributed the web-based survey to physicians in those same countries for data collection.

To be included, physicians had to be in practice for two to 35 years, spend more than 75% of their time in direct patient care, and have managed at least 15 patients with MDS in the previous three months. Overall, 244 hematologist/oncologists, 124 hematologists, and 10 oncologists answered the survey.

More than 65% of the physicians reported that their patients with MDS had experienced transfusion delays because of a shortage in the blood supply. Of the physicians who reported delays, 20% said that delays affected 25% or more of their patients with MDS. The average delay due to a blood supply shortage was 4.2 days, and 16.7% of patients required additional healthcare utilization because of delays.

The survey also asked the physicians to identify the top 10 factors that affect outcomes in patients with MDS, from a list of 32 options. The top 10 were:

  1. Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status score
  2. Age
  3. Hemoglobin level
  4. Infections
  5. Percentage bone marrow blasts at diagnosis
  6. Comorbidities
  7. Platelets
  8. Cardiovascular comorbidity
  9. Genetic abnormalities
  10. White blood cell count

The researchers said that new treatment options should be developed to help reduce dependency on transfusions, which may help improve outcomes in patients with MDS.