What You Should Know:
– Oncologists state social determinants of health (SDOH) significantly impact outcomes for cancer patients, according to new research from Cardinal Health Specialty Solutions.
– The findings illustrate certain disconnects between physician perceptions and the increasing body of evidence on the significance of SDOH.
– Appropriately, 91 percent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that SDOH directly impact cancer treatment outcomes.
More than 90% of oncologists said social determinants of health (SDOH) such as financial security, access to food and social isolation are significantly impacting outcomes for cancer patients, according to new research from Cardinal Health Specialty Solutions. The findings illustrate certain disconnects between physician perceptions and the increasing body of evidence on the significance of SDOH.
With more patients being cured of or living longer with cancer, the U.S. is witnessing the highest number of cancer survivors in the history of medicine. While this is the desirable outcome, it also has created challenges within a strained healthcare system.
These findings were released today in the seventh edition of Oncology Insights, a research-based report series analyzing the views of more than 160 U.S. oncologists. This edition focuses on the implications of SDOH on cancer treatment and issues related to caring for a growing number of cancer survivors. The report also includes viewpoints from Cardinal Health Chief Medical Officer Bruce Feinberg, DO, and Vice President and Senior Medical Director Ajeet Gajra, MD, MBBS, FACP.
Oncologists Acknowledge the Impact of Social Determinants
Among the SDOH categories, financial security (83 percent) stood out as the most significant burden followed by access to transportation (58 percent), health literacy (53 percent) and social isolation (43 percent). It is reassuring to learn that 69 percent of respondents said they often or always discuss SDOH with their patients, but 81 percent acknowledged that they and their staff were time constrained in their ability to adequately address SDOH
Despite the high proportion of recognition and engagement, only 28 percent of respondents believed most or all of their patients were impacted by SDOH. Such beliefs seem at odds with the growing body of research on the impact of financial toxicity, let alone the other six categories of SDOH.
Three areas of remediation stood out as having the greatest potential to alleviate SDOH burdens: financial assistance (79 percent), assistance with transportation (57 percent), and effective tools to improve patient understanding of disease and treatment (29 percent). Only eight percent believed mental health assistance to be of significant value and only one percent saw value in addiction assistance – responses that seem at odds with the high rates of mental illness and addiction nationwide.
Other findings include:
Oncologists are adapting to care for a growing number of cancer survivors. Eighty-six percent of respondents agree they are seeing a greater number of cancer survivors in their practice than they did five years ago, and nearly three in four participating oncologists said they would use educational materials and support services if they were offered.
Most (76%) perceive that assistance programs are not readily accessible, while 81% say that they and their staff are constrained in the amount of time they can spend assisting patients with social needs
More help is needed in addressing financial security via co-pay assistance programs (90%), free drug programs (70%), health literacy via patient education (60%), medication adherence (42%) and transportation support (39%).
To learn more about the report, visit https://www.cardinalhealth.com/en/cmp/ext/ma/oncology-insights.html?cid=VURL-TRD-PHR-SS-HA-OncologyInsights-060117