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Improving Breast Cancer Quality of Care with the Use of Patient Navigators

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The continuum of breast cancer care requires multidisciplinary efforts. Patient navigators, who perform outreach, coordination, and education, have been shown to improve some areas of care. However, little research has assessed the impact of navigators on breast cancer treatment in uninsured populations. Our objective is to report on the impact of a patient navigator program on breast cancer quality of care at a public hospital. One hundred consecutive newly diagnosed patients with breast cancer (Stages I to III) were identified (2005 to 2007). Forty-nine patients were treated before the use of navigators and 51 after program implementation. Nine breast cancer quality indicators were used to evaluate quality of care. Overall adherence to the quality indicators improved from 69 to 86 per cent with the use of patient navigators (P < 0.01). Only one individual indicator, use of surveillance mammography, improved significantly (52 to 76%, P < 0.05). All nine indicators reached 75 per cent or greater adherence rates after implementation of the navigator program compared with only four before implementation. Patient navigators appear to improve breast cancer quality of care in a public hospital. In populations in which cultural, linguistic, and financial barriers are prevalent, navigator programs can be effective in narrowing the observed gaps in the quality of cancer care.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Olive View–UCLA Medical Center, Sylmar, California, USA

Publication date: October 1, 2010

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  • The Southeastern Surgical Congress owns and publishes The American Surgeon monthly. It is the official journal of the Congress and the Southern California Chapter of the American College of Surgeons, which all members receive each month. The journal brings up to date clinical advances in surgical knowledge in a popular reference format. In addition to publishing papers presented at the annual meetings of the associated organizations, the journal publishes selected unsolicited manuscripts. If you have a manuscript you'd like to see published in The American Surgeon select "Information for Authors" from the Related Information options below. A Copyright Release Form must accompany all manuscripts submitted.
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