Systematic review of the impact of cancer survivorship care plans on health outcomes and health care delivery
Communication Aids for Disabled
Head and Neck Neoplasms
Purpose Numerous organizations recommend that patients with cancer receive a survivorship care plan (SCP) comprising a treatment summary and follow-up care plans. Among current barriers to implementation are providers' concerns about the strength of evidence that SCPs improve outcomes. This systematic review evaluates whether delivery of SCPs has a positive impact on health outcomes and health care delivery for cancer survivors. Methods Randomized and nonrandomized studies evaluating patient-reported outcomes, health care use, and disease outcomes after delivery of SCPs were identified by searching MEDLINE, Embase, PsycINFO, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, and Cochrane Library. Data extracted by independent raters were summarized on the basis of qualitative synthesis. Results Eleven nonrandomized and 13 randomized studies met inclusion criteria. Variability was evident across studies in cancer types, SCP delivery timing and method, SCP recipients and content, SCP-related counseling, and outcomes assessed. Nonrandomized study findings yielded descriptive information on satisfaction with care and reactions to SCPs. Randomized study findings were generally negative for the most commonly assessed outcomes (ie, physical, functional, and psychological well-being); findings were positive in single studies for other outcomes, including amount of information received, satisfaction with care, and physician implementation of recommended care. Conclusion Existing research provides little evidence that SCPs improve health outcomes and health care delivery. Possible explanations include heterogeneity in study designs and the low likelihood that SCP delivery alone would influence distal outcomes. Findings are limited but more positive for proximal outcomes (eg, information received) and for care delivery, particularly when SCPs are accompanied by counseling to prepare survivors for future clinical encounters. Recommendations for future research include focusing to a greater extent on evaluating ways to ensure SCP recommendations are subsequently acted on as part of ongoing care.