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Oncology providers’ perspectives on endocrine therapy prescribing and management

Authors Wheeler S, Roberts M, Bloom D, Reeder-Hayes K, Espada M, Peppercorn J, Golin C, Earp JA

Received 2 September 2015

Accepted for publication 11 February 2016

Published 30 September 2016 Volume 2016:10 Pages 2007—2019


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Johnny Chen

Stephanie B Wheeler,1,2 Megan C Roberts,1 Diane Bloom,1 Katherine E Reeder-Hayes,2,3 Maya Espada,1 Jeffrey Peppercorn,4 Carol E Golin,5,6 Jo Anne Earp2,5

1Department of Health Policy and Management, 2Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, 3Division of Hematology and Oncology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, 4Division of Hematology/Oncology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, 5Department of Health Behavior, 6Department of Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA

Purpose: Adjuvant endocrine therapy (ET) can reduce the risk of recurrence among females with hormone receptor-positive breast cancer. Overall, initiation and adherence to ET are suboptimal, though reasons are not well described. The study’s objective was to better understand ET decision making, prescribing, and patient management from oncology providers’ perspectives.
Methods: Using purposive sampling, we recruited oncology providers who saw five or more breast cancer patients per week (n=20). We conducted 30–45-minute telephone interviews, using a semistructured guide to elicit perspectives on ET use. We used thematic content analysis to systematically identify categories of meaning and double-coded transcripts using Atlas.ti.
Results: Providers recommend ET to all eligible patients except those with contraindications or other risk factors. Providers base their ET prescribing decisions on the patient’s menopausal status, side effects, and comorbidities. ET is typically discussed multiple times: at the onset of breast cancer treatment and in more detail after other treatment completion. Providers felt that the associated recurrence risk reduction is the most compelling argument for patients during ET decision making. While providers rarely perceived noninitiation as a problem, nonadherence was prevalent, often due to unresolvable side effects.
Conclusion: From the clinicians’ perspectives, side effects from ET are the dominant factor in nonadherence. Efforts to improve adherence should focus on strategies to minimize side effects and ensure clinicians and patients are well informed regarding optimal side effect management. This finding has important implications for novel endocrine regimens that offer improved outcomes through longer duration or more intensive therapy.

Keywords: breast cancer, endocrine therapy, oncology, oncologist, qualitative interviews

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