Who provides psychosocial follow-up care for post-treatment cancer survivors? A survey of medical oncologists and primary care physicians

Laura P. Forsythe, Catherine M. Alfano, Corinne R. Leach, Patricia A. Ganz, Michael E. Stefanek, Julia H. Rowland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

52 Scopus citations


Purpose: Addressing psychosocial needs, including key components of psychologic distress, physical symptoms, and health promotion, is vital to cancer follow-up care. Yet little is known about who provides psychosocial care. This study examined physician-reported practices regarding care of post-treatment cancer survivors. We sought to characterize physicians who reported broad involvement in (ie, across key components of care) and shared responsibility for psychosocial care. Methods: A nationally representative sample of medical oncologists (n = 1,130) and primary care physicians (PCPs; n = 1,021) were surveyed regarding follow-up care of breast and colon cancer survivors. Results: Approximately half of oncologists and PCPs (52%) reported broad involvement in psychosocial care. Oncologist and PCP confidence, beliefs about who is able to provide psychosocial support, and preferences for shared responsibility for care predicted broad involvement. However, oncologists' and PCPs' perceptions of who provides specific aspects of psychosocial care differed ( P < .001); both groups saw themselves as the main providers. Oncologists' confidence, PCPs' beliefs about who is able to provide psychosocial support, and oncologist and PCP preference for models other than shared care were inversely associated with a shared approach to care. Conclusion: Findings that some providers are not broadly involved in psychosocial care and that oncologists and PCPs differ in their beliefs regarding who provides specific aspects of care underscore the need for better care coordination, informed by the respective skills and desires of physicians, to ensure needs are met. Interventions targeting physician confidence, beliefs about who is able to provide psychosocial support, and preferred models for survivorship care may improve psychosocial care delivery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2897-2905
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Clinical Oncology
Issue number23
StatePublished - Aug 22 2012


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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