Patterns of follow-up care in frail cancer survivors in Nova Scotia: Implications for personalized survivorship models

Awardee: Sarah Dickieson

Graduate Program: MSc

Institution: Dalhousie University

Supervisor(s): Robin Urquhart

ARCC Program Area(s):  Survivorship

Competition: 2020

Project Summary:

What is the problem?

Canada’s cancer care system is strained. Better cancer screening and treatments have increased the number of survivors. As survivors get older, they may become frail and this can result in greater healthcare use and complexity. This means we will see more patients with greater needs, and thus more strain on our system. We are hoping to take the first steps needed to address these challenges. Specifically, we will study how frail cancer survivors in Nova Scotia (NS) use healthcare in order to inform where and how the system needs to change to reduce burden and improve lives.

 What do we need to find out?

This study will be the first in Canada to identify frail cancer survivors, and to understand their health care use after cancer treatment. It will pinpoint how frailty changes the needs and health care use of survivors within the cancer care system.

How will we find the answer?

We will use existing health data in NS for all breast, colorectal, prostate, and gynecological cancer survivors diagnosed between 2006-2013. These data will allow us to identify survivors who are frail, and then understand their healthcare use after they have finished cancer treatment.

What is the importance?

We know our cancer system is strained and cancer survivors have many needs that go unmet. Unless change occurs, these concerns will only get worse. As noted in other areas of care, current systems struggle to provide quality care to frail people. Understanding the precise care needs for this specific group of cancer survivors has the potential to create high-impact change in our cancer systems. This work is one step toward personalized survivorship care models that improve survivors’ experiences and outcomes, and reduce strain on the cancer care system.

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