Barriers to cancer treatment: a review of published research. Academic Article uri icon


  • PURPOSE/OBJECTIVES: To review published research on barriers to cancer treatment to provide a foundation for subsequent research and program and policy development directed at diminishing these barriers. DATA SOURCES: Relevant literature from medical and behavioral science data bases published between 1964 and 1994. Researchers reviewed 752 abstracts; they identified 160 articles that related directly to research on barriers to cancer treatment. Of these 160 articles, researchers chose 61 for a subsequent review using criteria to evaluate the strength of the study design and sampling procedures. DATA SYNTHESIS: The major barriers consistently documented to influence whether or not patients with cancer sought or continued treatment included communication problems between patients and providers, lack of information on side effects, cost of treatment, difficulties in obtaining and maintaining insurance coverage, and absence of social support networks. Access barriers generally were greater for older women, members of minority groups, and patients of lower socioeconomic status. The vast majority of the studies were conceptual or descriptive in nature and were based on nonprobability clinic-based samples. CONCLUSIONS: The limitations of existing research point to the need for studies on barriers to cancer treatment based on analytic population-based study designs that examine the relative importance of factors derived from multivariate explanatory models. This information may be used to develop programs and policies to ameliorate treatment barriers for patients with cancer. IMPLICATIONS FOR NURSING PRACTICE: The research priorities set forth by the Oncology Nursing Society also indicate a need for this type of research because quality of life, cost containment, and outcomes assessment all are directly or indirectly affected by the timely diagnosis of cancer. Treatment barriers have the potential to significantly affect an individual's ability to seek care and ultimately to increase the cost of care associated with adverse outcomes that may result from delays in seeking treatment.

author list (cited authors)

  • Guidry, J. J., Greisinger, A., Aday, L. A., Winn, R. J., Vernon, S., & Throckmorton, T. A.

citation count

  • 14

complete list of authors

  • Guidry, JJ||Greisinger, A||Aday, LA||Winn, RJ||Vernon, S||Throckmorton, TA

publication date

  • October 1996