Background: Cancer causes significant symptom burden and diminished quality of life. Despite the expansion of supportive and palliative care services (SPCS), little is known about rates of utilization and barriers to access to these services among oncology outpatients. Methods: We performed a cross-sectional survey in three outpatient medical oncology clinics. Patients with a diagnosis of breast, lung, or gastrointestinal (GI) cancer and a Karnofsky score of ≥60 were included. Patients reported their use of SPCS and any perceived barriers. Multivariable logistic regression was used to identify factors associated with SPCS use. Results: Among 313 participants, (50.5%) had not used SPCS since cancer diagnosis. The most common services used were nutrition (26.5%), psychiatric/psychological counseling (29.7%), and physical therapy (15.1%). Pain/palliative care and cancer rehabilitation consultations were used by 8.5% and 4.1% of participants, respectively. In multivariate analysis, graduate education was associated with greater SPCS use (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 2.14, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.08-4.26) compared with those with high school or less, whereas having lung cancer was associated with less SPCS use (AOR 0.48, 95% CI 0.24-0.96) when compared with those having breast cancer. The biggest reported barriers to using SPCS were a lack of awareness (22.4%) and lack of physician referral (23%). Conclusions: Approximately half of these patients had not accessed SPCS since cancer diagnosis and cite lack of awareness and physician nonreferral as barriers. Further research is needed to understand patients' needs and beliefs regarding SPCS, and how to integrate SPCS into conventional treatments to improve cancer care.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine