Pancreatic cancer is the tenth most common cancer in Australia and has a low survival rate, being often diagnosed at an advanced stage. There are a number of challenges associated with treating pancreatic cancer and highly specialised care is often required in order to achieve the best possible outcomes.
Previous research has shown that fewer than expected patients receive the recommended treatment for pancreatic cancer and that socio-demographic factors might play a role in influence what treatment patients receive for pancreatic cancer.
Australian researchers investigated quality of care in pancreatic cancer patients in a more holistic sense, calculating an overall quality of care score, assessing variations in scores associated with patient and heath service-related factors, and analysing the relationship between quality of care and survival.
Participants were residents of Queensland and New South Wales who were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Quality of care components were devised in consultations with clinicians from a range of specialties involved in the care of patients with pancreatic cancer.
These specialists were asked “What is important in the care of patients with pancreatic cancer?”, and their answers were recorded and arranged thematically. Each patient was assessment for items in the list that applied to their clinical situation and treatment.
Other potential determinants of care were recorded including patient characteristics, place of residence, socio-economic index, tumour-related factors and health service-related factors. The results of this study showed that a variety of factors influenced quality of care in patients with pancreatic cancer.
Younger patients had higher care scores than older patients as did people living in major cities compared to rural areas. Patients living in disadvantaged areas were found to have lower scores than those in the least disadvantaged areas. Higher quality of care was found to be associated with improved survival.
This study found that geographical location of residence, socio-economic index and pancreatic cancer case volume of the hospital to which patients first presented are all associated with quality of care scores for patients with pancreatic cancer. Variation in pancreatic cancer care is unacceptable and location and socio-economic status should not dictate quality of care.
The results of this study can help inform the implementation of processes that strive for equitable treatment and care of all people with pancreatic cancer.