Support Care Cancer. 2020 Dec 8. doi: 10.1007/s00520-020-05913-z. Online ahead of print.
PURPOSE: More and more people survive cancer, but the disease and its treatment often lead to impairment. Multidisciplinary ambulatory oncological rehabilitation (OR) programs have thus been developed. SW!SS REHA, the organization of major Swiss rehabilitation clinics, has defined ambulatory OR quality criteria for its members (about 50% of the Swiss rehabilitation capacity). However, SW!SS REHA criteria are not fully implemented and/or interpreted differently by different specialties or in different linguistic regions in Switzerland. The aim of our study was to carry out an online survey of existing outpatient programs to define quality criteria for an ideal OR program in Switzerland.
METHODS: A mixed methods approach was used for the survey-qualitative and quantitative. The qualitative part consisted of a guided discussion with OR experts and the quantitative part of an online survey. The quantitative part comprised the development and evaluation of an online questionnaire. It served to record the opinions of OR centers in Switzerland on the desired situation of outpatient rehabilitation.
RESULTS: Eighteen OR centers and 71 (49.7% response rate) OR actors participated in the online survey. The survey results indicate that some of the SW!SS REHA quality and performance criteria only partially match with the desired OR criteria for Switzerland. Key disparities occur particularly in the program design and structure and specifically around how many interventions are required to constitute an OR program, the extent of standardization versus individualization of the program, i.e., how many and which modules in a program should be obligatory, and finally the duration and intensity of the program. The online survey did not generate any statistical evidence that OR requirements vary significantly between different linguistic regions and among different specialties.
CONCLUSIONS: Cancer patients are heterogeneous with respect to cancer type, prognosis, and disability level, such that a standard program cannot be uniformly applied. Therefore, a flexible program is required with few mandatory modules and additional individual modules to achieve the threshold number of modules that would constitute a multidisciplinary OR program. Intensity and frequency of OR needs to consider the health state of the participants. The results indicate a need to modify some of the existing SW!SS REHA criteria to ensure that more patients can gain access and benefit form evidence-based OR interventions. Furthermore, the survey provides important findings so that the existing OR offer can be improved with the goal that OR centers will be able to be quality certified in the future.