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The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1472-6963-12-340) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
MS, JM, NN, and PB contributed to the needs assessment, design of the study, and development of the research protocol. NN coordinated the study and drafted the manuscript, and JM, AS and XD participated in critical manuscript revision. PB supervised the navigation team, TL and ER assisted with data management, and GP assisted with data collection and manuscript revision. AR and DL performed the statistical analyses, and AR, MS, and NN were involved in the interpretation of the data. All authors have read and approved the final manuscript.
Patient navigation programs have been launched nationwide in an attempt to reduce racial/ethnic and socio-demographic disparities in cancer care, but few have evaluated outcomes in the prostate cancer setting. The National Cancer Institute-funded Chicago Patient Navigation Research Program (C-PNRP) aims to implement and evaluate the efficacy of a patient navigation intervention for predominantly low-income minority patients with an abnormal prostate cancer screening test at a Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital in Chicago.
From 2006 through 2010, C-PNRP implemented a quasi-experimental intervention whereby trained social worker and lay health navigators worked with veterans with an abnormal prostate screen to proactively identify and resolve personal and systems barriers to care. Men were enrolled at a VA urology clinic and were selected to receive navigated versus usual care based on clinic day. Patient navigators performed activities to facilitate timely follow-up such as appointment reminders, transportation coordination, cancer education, scheduling assistance, and social support as needed. Primary outcome measures included time (days) from abnormal screening to diagnosis and time from diagnosis to treatment initiation. Secondary outcomes included psychosocial and demographic predictors of non-compliance and patient satisfaction. Dates of screening, follow-up visits, and treatment were obtained through chart audit, and questionnaires were administered at baseline, after diagnosis, and after treatment initiation. At the VA, 546 patients were enrolled in the study (245 in the navigated arm, 245 in the records-based control arm, and 56 in a subsample of surveyed control subjects).
Given increasing concerns about balancing better health outcomes with lower costs, careful examination of interventions aimed at reducing healthcare disparities attain critical importance. While analysis of the C-PNRP data is underway, the design of this patient navigation intervention will inform other patient navigation programs addressing strategies to improve prostate cancer outcomes among vulnerable populations.