LaKedia Charman Banks, Kris Kapphahn, Millie Das, Manali I. Patel

Randomized Trial of a Volunteer-Led Symptom Assessment Intervention on Documentation, Patient-Reported Outcomes, and Health Care Use Among Veterans With Lung Cancer

  • Oncology (nursing)
  • Health Policy
  • Oncology

PURPOSE Identification and documentation of Veterans' symptoms are crucial for optimal lung cancer care delivery. The objective of this study was to determine whether a volunteer-led proactive telephone symptom assessment intervention could improve comprehensive symptom documentation. METHODS Veterans with lung cancer were randomly assigned to usual care (control group) or usual care with proactive symptom assessment in which a peer volunteer made weekly phone calls to assess patient symptoms under nurse practitioner supervision. The primary outcome was oncologist documentation of symptoms in the electronic health record at all clinical visits within 6 months after enrollment. Secondary outcomes included patient satisfaction with decision, patient activation, health-related quality of life (HRQOL), and symptom burden, measured at baseline, and 3, 6, and 9 months after enrollment, and acute care use within 9 months after enrollment. RESULTS Among 60 Veterans randomly assigned, median (range) age was 70.2 (50-86) years; 57 (95.0%) were male. More intervention participants had oncologist documentation of symptoms than control group participants (24 [77.4%] v seven [24.1%], respectively; odds ratio, 16.46 [95% CI, 4.58 to 59.16]). Intervention group participants had greater improvements over time in HRQOL (expected mean difference, 25.3 [95% CI, 15.00 to 35.70]) and patient activation (expected mean difference, 13.6 [95% CI, 3.79 to 23.39]), lower symptom burden (expected mean difference, –6.39 [95% CI, –15.21 to –2.46]), lower rates of emergency room visits (incidence rate ratio, 0.48 [95% CI, 0.30 to 0.75]), and hospitalizations (incidence rate ratio, 0.47 [95% CI, 0.28 to 0.77]) than control group participants. CONCLUSION This symptom assessment intervention is an effective strategy for Veterans with lung cancer.

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