Costs Play Role in Oncologists’ Treatment Recommendations, But Most Physicians Do Not Discuss Cost Issues With Patients

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OncologyONCOLOGY Vol 24 No 2
Volume 24
Issue 2

In the largest survey to date of US oncologists’ attitudes about the cost of cancer treatments, researchers at Tufts Medical Center and the University of Michigan found that 84% of oncologists consider their patients’ out-of-pocket costs when recommending cancer treatment. However, fewer than half of the respondents surveyed frequently discuss cost issues with patients.

In the largest survey to date of US oncologists’ attitudes about the cost of cancer treatments, researchers at Tufts Medical Center and the University of Michigan found that 84% of oncologists consider their patients’ out-of-pocket costs when recommending cancer treatment. However, fewer than half of the respondents surveyed frequently discuss cost issues with patients.

The survey, published in the January 2010 edition of Health Affairs, also found support among oncologists for comparative-effectiveness research, which could help doctors make decisions about which treatments are best for different patients. Approximately 79% say they support more government research into the comparative effectiveness of different cancer drugs. The findings are significant, as federal funding for comparative-effectiveness research is included as part of health reform efforts.

“Our study underscores the importance of cancer treatment costs as a reality among US oncologists,” said Peter Neumann, scd, director of the Center for the Evaluation of Value and Risk in Health at the Institute for Clinical Research and Health Policy Studies at Tufts Medical Center and principal investigator for the study. “The lack of communication suggests that oncologists are uncomfortable with the subject and may lack accurate knowledge about the actual costs and insurance coverage of drugs.”

The paper can be viewed at http://content.healthaffairs.org/cgi/content/abstract/29/1/196.

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