Community oncologists’ decision-making for treatment of older patients with cancer

Supriya G. Mohile, Allison Magnuson, Chintan Pandya, Carla Velarde, Paul Duberstein, Arti Hurria, Kah Poh Loh, Megan Wells, Sandy Plumb, Nikesha Gilmore, Marie Flannery, Marsha Wittink, Ronald Epstein, Charles E. Heckler, Michelle Janelsins, Karen Mustian, Judith O. Hopkins, Jane Liu, Srihari Peri, William Dale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: This study’s objectives were to describe community oncologists’ beliefs about and confidence with geriatric care and to determine whether geriatric-relevant information influences cancer treatment decisions. Methods: Community oncologists were recruited to participate in 2 multisite geriatric oncology trials. Participants shared their beliefs about and confidence in caring for older adults. They were also asked to make a first-line chemotherapy recommendation (combination vs single-agent vs no chemotherapy) for a hypothetical vignette of an older patient with advanced pancreatic cancer. Each oncologist received one randomly chosen vignette that varied on 3 variables: age (72/84 years), impaired function (yes/no), and cognitive impairment (yes/no). Other patient characteristics were held constant. Logistic regression models were used to identify associations between oncologist/vignette-patient characteristics and treatment decisions. Results: Oncologist response rate was 61% (n=305/498). Most oncologists agreed that “the care of older adults with cancer needs to be improved” (89%) and that “geriatrics training is essential” (72%). However, <25% were “very confident” in recognizing dementia or conducting a fall risk or functional assessment, and only 23% reported using the geriatric assessment in clinic. Each randomly varied patient characteristic was independently associated with the decision to treat: younger age (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 5.01; 95% CI, 2.73–9.20), normal cognition (aOR, 5.42; 95% CI, 3.01–9.76), and being functionally intact (aOR, 3.85; 95% CI, 2.12–7.00). Accounting for all vignettes across all scenarios, 161 oncologists (52%) said they would offer chemotherapy. All variables were independently associated with prescribing single-agent over combination chemotherapy (older age: aOR, 3.22; 95% CI 1.43–7.25, impaired cognition: aOR, 3.13; 95% CI, 1.36–7.20, impaired function: aOR, 2.48; 95% CI, 1.12–5.72). Oncologists’ characteristics were not associated with decisions about providing chemotherapy. Conclusion: Geriatric-relevant information, when available, strongly influences community oncologists’ treatment decisions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)301-309
Number of pages9
JournalJNCCN Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network
Volume16
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology

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