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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Health services utilization and provider continuity of care among survivors of childhood cancer : a cohort analysis Hedden, Lindsay Kathleen


Purpose: A majority of childhood and adolescent cancer survivors face life-long cancer- and treatment-related sequelae. Long-term follow-up is necessary to facilitate timely diagnosis and management of these health conditions. As part of strategic long-term follow-up, provider continuity of care (PCOC) may improve outcomes through appropriate use of surveillance, screening, and coordination of services. The purpose of this thesis was to assess physician services utilization and PCOC among survivors of childhood cancer compared with general population subjects, and to examine factors associated with survivors' use of physician services and PCOC scores. Methods: Physician services utilization and PCOC were assessed in a population-based cohort of 1322 five-year cancer survivors diagnosed between 1981 and 1995 under age 20 in British Columbia, and a group of 13,220 age- and gender-frequency matched, randomly selected population-based subjects, whose records were linked to individual-level administrative healthcare datasets. Effects of clinical and sociodemographic modifiers on utilization and PCOC were examined using generalized linear modeling. Changes in utilization and PCOC by age were estimated using a longitudinal, repeated measures modeling approach. Results: Survivors incurred an average of 8.94 medical visits per year: 4.82 to primary care physicians, 2.69 to specialists, and 1.43 to non-physician providers. Survivors had more visits than comparators in all visit categories (p<0.0001 for all). As they age, survivors' use of primary care services increases significantly, while their use of specialist services declines, trends that are not mirrored by the comparison population. The average PCOC score for survivors was 0.54 ± 0.22, indicating survivors saw the same primary care provider for only 50% of their primary care visits. Mean score did not differ between survivors and comparators; however, in the population sample scores improved with age (p=0.02), while among survivors, scores worsened (p=0.05). Conclusions: The dramatic age-related increase in primary care visits observed in the survivor group suggests that primary care physicians play a key role in ensuring quality long-term follow-up care. Survivors are at heightened risk for poor PCOC as they age and transition into adult-oriented community care, raising concerns about whether they are receiving the appropriate follow-up care encompassing screening, surveillance and psychosocial support.

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