Communication about geriatric assessment domains in advanced cancer settings: "Missed opportunities".
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OBJECTIVES: Older patients with advanced cancer often have age-related health issues (e.g., memory impairment) that influence their cancer treatment decisions. Communication about these age-related concerns can potentially lead to further assessment and subsequent clinical interventions to improve treatment decision-making and patients' quality of life. Yet, little is known about the communication of age-related concerns between oncologists, patients, and caregivers. MATERIALS AND METHODS: This study is a secondary analysis of data from the Values and Options in Cancer Care (VOICE) study. Audio-recorded and transcribed outpatient clinical oncology encounters with 37 patients with advanced cancer 60years of age were content-analyzed. Two trained coders used a structured coding scheme based on pre-specified geriatric assessment (GA) domains to examine the transcripts for the frequency and quality of communication about age-related concerns. Atlas.ti version 6 was used for all analyses. RESULTS: The median age of the patients was 66years (range=60-90years); patients were mostly female (26/37), married (22/37), and White (36/37). Out of 37 audio-recorded visits, 31 had at least one mention of an age-related concern with a total of 70 mentions. Oncologists initiated communication about age-related concerns half of the time (53%). When age-related concerns were mentioned, half of the time (50%) the oncologist did not implement further evidence-based interventions to address the age-related concern (e.g., conduct a cognitive screen for a memory concern). CONCLUSION: Interventions are needed to improve the frequency and quality of the communication about age-related concerns to improve the care of older adults with cancer.