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Implementation of a Brief Screening Tool to Identify Needs of Breast Cancer Survivors

      Abstract

      Background

      Innovation in health care delivery is needed to improve care for cancer survivors. We report our experience with adapting screening questions from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) guideline to evaluate the needs of breast cancer survivors.

      Materials and Methods

      We adapted the NCCN-recommended screening questions into a plain language, self-administered 1-page intake questionnaire. The tool was administered to a convenience sample of female breast cancer survivors at follow-up oncology and primary care visits. Domains included symptoms, lifestyle concerns, and financial issues. Frequency of concerns was assessed as “never,” “rarely,” “sometimes,” “very frequently,” and “always.” We evaluated feasibility and utility of administration and the prevalence and frequency of patient-reported concerns.

      Results

      The questionnaire was highly acceptable to patients and enhanced visits for clinicians. Clinicians reported that it led to discussion of issues that may not otherwise be addressed in the visit and did not find it burdensome. The most commonly endorsed patient concerns were desire to improve fitness or nutrition, worry about cancer recurrence, and insomnia. A majority also reported feeling anxiety and aches or pains in joints or extremities. Several issues known to be underreported in clinic visits were frequently endorsed, included sexual dissatisfaction and memory impairments. Clinicians suggested incorporating the tool into the electronic health record to increase utility and awareness.

      Conclusion

      Screening for individual needs among breast cancer survivors is feasible, efficient, and may identify prevalent issues that otherwise can be missed in routine survivorship care.

      Keywords

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