What sort of follow-up services would Australian breast cancer survivors prefer if we could no longer offer long-term specialist-based care? A discrete choice experiment
Background:Early diagnosis and improved treatment outcomes have increased breast cancer survival rates that, in turn, have led to increased numbers of women undergoing follow-up after completion of primary treatment. The current workload growth is unsustainable for breast cancer specialists who also provide care for women newly diagnosed or with a recurrence. Appropriate and acceptable follow-up care is important; yet, currently we know little about patient preferences. The aim of this study was to explore the preferences of Australian breast cancer survivors for alternative modes of delivery of follow-up services.Methods:A self-administered questionnaire (online or paper) was developed. The questionnaire contained a discrete choice experiment (DCE) designed to explore patient preferences with respect to provider, location, frequency and method of delivery of routine follow-up care in years 3, 4 and 5 after diagnosis, as well as the perceived value of 'drop-in' clinics providing additional support. Participants were recruited throughout Australia over a 6-month period from May to October 2012. Preference scores and choice probabilities were used to rank the top 10 most preferred follow-up scenarios for respondents.Results:A total of 836 women participated in the study, of whom 722 (86.4%) completed the DCE. In the absence of specialist follow-up, the 10 most valued surveillance scenarios all included a Breast Physician as the provider of follow-up care. The most preferred scenario is a face-to-face local breast cancer follow-up clinic held every 6 months and led by a Breast Physician, where additional clinics focused on the side effects of treatment are also provided.Conclusion:Beyond the first 2 years from diagnosis, in the absence of a specialist led follow-up, women prefer to have their routine breast cancer follow-up by a Breast Physician (or a Breast Cancer Nurse) in a dedicated local breast cancer clinic, rather than with their local General Practitioner. Drop-in clinics for the management of treatment related side effects and to provide advice to both develop and maintain good health are also highly valued by breast cancer survivors. 2014 Cancer Research UK.