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Cancer survivors with transportation barriers to care face risk for ER use and mortality, new study shows

Researchers stress need to adopt value-based, patient-centered approaches to address this critical issue.

New research from scientists at the American Cancer Society and Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center found delayed care due to lack of transportation is associated with increased emergency room (ER) use and mortality risk among adults with and without cancer history. Cancer survivors with transportation barriers had the highest risk. The study was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (JNCI) and shared via Twitter.

“Transportation barriers prevent many patients with cancer from accessing timely and effective care. Lack of reliable and affordable transportation can lead to missed appointments, delayed diagnoses, treatment interruptions, and incomplete follow-up care,” said Dr. Xuesong Han, ACS scientific director, health services research and senior author of the study. “These factors can worsen the prognosis and quality of life of cancer survivors, as well as increase the costs and burdens on the healthcare system.”

For the study, researchers identified 28,640 adults with a cancer history and 470,024 adults without a cancer history from a nationally representative survey (2000-2018 US National Health Interview Survey) and its linked mortality files with vital status through December 31, 2019. Transportation barriers were defined as delays in care due to lack of transportation. 

The results showed 2.8% of cancer survivors and 1.7% of adults without a cancer history reported transportation barriers. Researchers also reported 7,324 deaths occurred in adults with a cancer history and 40,793 deaths in adults without a cancer history. 

ACS researcher Dr. Robin Yabroff is a co- author of the study. 

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