Use of Patient Navigators Improves Cancer Screening Rates

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Use of Patient Navigators Improves Cancer Screening Rates
Use of Patient Navigators Improves Cancer Screening Rates

WEDNESDAY, June 22, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- The use of patient navigators improves cancer screening rates among low-income and ethnic minority patients, according to a study published online June 6 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

The research included 1,612 patients at 18 Massachusetts General Hospital primary care practices. The patients were overdue for breast, cervical, and/or colorectal cancer screenings. They were considered at risk of not getting the screenings based on previous missed appointments. In addition, their primary language was not English. Of those patients, 792 were assigned a patient navigator. The patient navigator contacted patients in their own language, educated and encouraged them, arranged transportation and accompanied them to screening visits, and them helped overcome other barriers to screening.

The researchers found that 32 percent of patients with a patient navigator completed at least one overdue screening. This compared to 18 percent of patients without a patient navigator completed at least one late cancer screening.

"These findings demonstrate how effective patient navigators can be for patients who, for a variety of reasons, encounter obstacles to receiving cancer screening," study author Sanja Percac-Lima, M.D., Ph.D., of the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Community Health Improvement in Boston, said in a hospital news release. "Health disparities pose a major challenge to low-income and ethnic minority patients, and our study suggests a proactive approach may help increase their chances of receiving the care they need."

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