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Metrics for evaluating patient navigation during cancer diagnosis and treatment

Crafting a policy-relevant research agenda for patient navigation in cancer care.

Journal:  Cancer, 117: 3563–3572. doi: 10.1002/cncr.26269
Authors: B. Ashleigh Guadagnolo MD, MPH, Daniel Dohan PhD, Peter Raich MD
Article first published online: 20 JUL 2011


Racial and ethnic minorities as well as other vulnerable populations experience disparate cancer-related health outcomes. Patient navigation is an emerging health care delivery innovation that offers promise in improving quality of cancer care delivery to these patients who experience unique health-access barriers. Metrics are needed to evaluate whether patient navigation can improve quality of care delivery, health outcomes, and overall value in health care during diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

Information regarding the current state of the science examining patient navigation interventions was gathered via search of the published scientific literature. A focus group of providers, patient navigators, and health-policy experts was convened as part of the Patient Navigation Leadership Summit sponsored by the American Cancer Society. Key metrics were identified for assessing the efficacy of patient navigation in cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Patient navigation data exist for all stages of cancer care; however, the literature is more robust for its implementation during prevention, screening, and early diagnostic workup of cancer. Relatively fewer data are reported for outcomes and efficacy of patient navigation during cancer treatment. Metrics are proposed for a policy-relevant research agenda to evaluate the efficacy of patient navigation in cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Patient navigation is understudied with respect to its use in cancer diagnosis and treatment. Core metrics are defined to evaluate its efficacy in improving outcomes and mitigating health-access barriers.