Cancer Outcomes Research Program

Halifax, Canada

Cancer Outcomes Research Program

Halifax, Canada

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Urquhart R.,Cancer Outcomes Research Program | Johnston G.,Dalhousie University
Journal of Pain and Symptom Management | Year: 2013

Context: Prescription of opioid analgesics is a key component of pain management among persons with cancer at the end of life. Objectives: To use a population-based method to assess the use of opioid analgesics within the community among older persons with colorectal cancer (CRC) before death and determine factors associated with the use of opioid analgesics. Methods: Data were derived from a retrospective, linked administrative database study of all persons who were diagnosed with CRC between January 1, 2001 and December 31, 2005 in Nova Scotia, Canada. This study included all persons who 1) were 66 years or older at the date of diagnosis; 2) died between January 1, 2001 and April 1, 2008; and 3) resided in health districts with formal palliative care programs (PCPs) (n = 657). Factors associated with having filled at least one prescription for a so-called "strong" opioid analgesic in the six months before death were examined using multivariate logistic regression. Results: In all, 36.7% filled at least one prescription for any opioid in the six months before death. Adjusting for all covariates, filling a prescription for a strong opioid was associated with enrollment in a PCP (odds ratio [OR] = 3.18, 95% CI = 2.05-4.94), residence in a long-term care facility (OR = 2.19, 95% CI = 1.23-3.89), and a CRC cause of death (OR = 1.75, 95% CI = 1.14-2.68). Persons were less likely to fill a prescription for a strong opioid if they were older (OR = 0.97, 95% CI = 0.95-0.99), male (OR = 0.59, 95% 0.40-0.86), and diagnosed less than six months before death (OR = 0.62, 95% CI = 0.41-0.93). Conclusion: PCPs may play an important role in enabling access to end-of-life care within the community. © 2013 U.S. Cancer Pain Relief Committee.Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Porter G.A.,Dalhousie University | Porter G.A.,Cancer Outcomes Research Program | Urquhart R.,Cancer Outcomes Research Program | Bu J.,Cancer Outcomes Research Program | And 4 more authors.
BMC Cancer | Year: 2011

Background: Adequate nodal harvest (≥ 12 lymph nodes) in colorectal cancer has been shown to optimize staging and proposed as a quality indicator of colorectal cancer care. An audit within a single health district in Nova Scotia, Canada presented and published in 2002, revealed that adequate nodal harvest occurred in only 22% of patients. The goal of this current study was to identify factors associated with adequate nodal harvest, and specifically to examine the impact of the audit and feedback strategy on nodal harvest.Methods: This population-based study included all patients undergoing resection for primary colorectal cancer in Nova Scotia, Canada, from 01 January 2001 to 31 December 2005. Linkage of the provincial cancer registry with other databases (hospital discharge, physician claims data, and national census data) provided clinicodemographic, diagnostic, and treatment-event data. Factors associated with adequate nodal harvest were examined using multivariate logistic regression. The specific interaction between year and health district was examined to identify any potential effect of dissemination of the previously-performed audit.Results: Among the 2,322 patients, the median nodal harvest was 8; overall, 719 (31%) had an adequate nodal harvest. On multivariate analysis, audited health district (p < 0.0001), year (p < 0.0001), younger age (p < 0.0001), non-emergent surgery (p < 0.0001), more advanced stage (p = 0.008), and previous cancer history (p = 0.03) were associated with an increased likelihood of an adequate nodal harvest. Interaction between year and audited health district was identified (p = 0.006) such that the increase in adequate nodal harvest over time was significantly greater in the audited health district.Conclusions: Improvements in colorectal cancer nodal harvest did occur over time. A published audit demonstrating suboptimal nodal harvest appeared to be an effective knowledge translation tool, though more so for the audited health district, suggesting a potentially beneficial effect of audit and feedback strategies. © 2011 Porter et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.


Porter G.A.,Dalhousie University | Porter G.A.,Cancer Outcomes Research Program | Urquhart R.,Cancer Outcomes Research Program | Bu J.,Cancer Outcomes Research Program | And 5 more authors.
Annals of Surgical Oncology | Year: 2012

Background. Adequate nodal harvest (≥12 lymph nodes) in colorectal cancer has been shown to optimize staging and has been proposed as a quality indicator of colorectal cancer care. We previously demonstrated a population-based improvement in adequate nodal harvest over time, particularly with the use of an audit and feedback strategy. The goal of this current study is to evaluate the impact of improved adequate nodal harvest on 3 relevant clinical outcomes: node positivity rate, use of adjuvant chemotherapy, and survival. Methods. This current population-based study included all patients undergoing resection for primary stage I-III colorectal cancer in Nova Scotia, Canada, from January 1, 2001 to December 31, 2005. Linkage of the provincial cancer registry with other administrative databases (hospital discharge data, physician claims data, and national census data) provided clinical, demographic, diagnostic, treatment event, and survival data. The association between increase in adequate node harvest and relevant clinical outcomes was examined for all patients and in a subgroup analysis of patients who received care in a health district that used audit and feedback to improve nodal harvest. Results. Among the 2,250 patients, the median nodal harvest was 8, and the overall node positive rate was 35.9%. Despite significant improvement in the proportion of patients undergoing adequate nodal harvest over time (P < .0001), no significant change was observed in the node positivity rate (P = .51), proportion of patients undergoing adjuvant chemotherapy (P = .83), or survival (P = .25). In the subgroup analysis confined to patients where audit and feedback was used to improve nodal harvest rates, clinical outcomes were not improved. Conclusions. Although improvements in the rate of adequate nodal harvest did occur over time, no corresponding meaningful improvement in clinical outcomes was noted. Given the need that quality indicators not only be associated with outcome, but also that outcome improves as such indicators are optimized, this study questions the inclusion of a nodal harvest ≥12 lymph nodes as a quality indicator of colorectal cancer care. © Society of Surgical Oncology 2011.


Maddison A.R.,Dalhousie University | Asada Y.,Dalhousie University | Burge F.,Dalhousie University | Johnston G.W.,Dalhousie University | Urquhart R.,Cancer Outcomes Research Program
Journal of Palliative Care | Year: 2012

Access to high-quality end-of-life (EOL) care is critical for all those with incurable cancer. The objective of this study was to examine inequalities in access to, and quality of, EOL care by assessing registration in a palliative care program, emergency room visits in the last 30 days of life, and location of death among individuals who died of colorectal cancer in Nova Scotia, Canada, between 2001 and 2008. We used populationbased linked administrative data and performed multivariate logistic regression models to assess the association between socio-economic, geographic, and demographic factors and outcomes related to access to, and quality of, EOL care (n=1,201). This study demonstrates that although access to, and quality of, EOL care appears to have improved, there remain significant inequalities throughout the population. Of primary concern is the variation in access to, and quality of, EOL care based on geographic location of residence and patient age. © 2012 Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal.


Urquhart R.,Cancer Outcomes Research Program | Urquhart R.,Dalhousie University | Sargeant J.,Dalhousie University | Grunfeld E.,Ontario Cancer Institute
Journal of Continuing Education in the Health Professions | Year: 2013

Moving knowledge into practice and the implementation of innovations in health care remain significant challenges. Few researchers adequately address the influence of organizations on the implementation of innovations in health care. The aims of this article are to (1) present 2 conceptual frameworks for understanding the organizational factors important to the successful implementation of innovations in health care settings; (2) discuss each in relation to the literature; and (3) briefly demonstrate how each may be applied to 3 initiatives involving the implementation of a specific innovation-synoptic reporting tools-in cancer care. Synoptic reporting tools capture information from diagnostic tests, surgeries, and pathology examinations in a standardized, structured manner and contain only the information necessary for patient care. The frameworks selected were the Promoting Action on Research Implementation in Health Services framework and an organizational framework of innovation implementation; these frameworks arise from different disciplines (nursing and management, respectively). The constructs from each framework are examined in relation to the literature, with each construct applied to synoptic reporting tool implementation to demonstrate how each may be used to inform both practice and research in this area. By improving our understanding of existing frameworks, we enhance our ability to more effectively study and target implementation processes. © 2013 The Alliance for Continuing Education in the Health Professions, the Society for Academic Continuing Medical Education, and the Council on CME, Association for Hospital Medical Education.


Urquhart R.,Cancer Outcomes Research Program | Urquhart R.,Dalhousie University | Sargeant J.,Dalhousie University | Porter G.A.,Cancer Outcomes Research Program | And 2 more authors.
Current Oncology | Year: 2011

Objective: Nationally, efforts to implement an innovation in cancer surgery-a Web-based synoptic reporting tool-are ongoing in five provinces. The objective of the present study was to identify the key multilevel factors influencing implementation and early use of this innovation for breast and colorectal cancer surgery at two academic hospitals in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Methods: We used case-study methodology to examine the implementation of surgical synoptic reporting. Methods included semi-structured interviews with key informants (surgeons, implementation team members, and report end users; n = 9), nonparticipant observation, and document analysis. A thematic analysis was conducted separately for each method, followed by explanation-building to integrate the evidence and to identify the key multilevel factors influencing implementation. An audit was performed to determine use. Results: Key factors influencing implementation were these: • Innovation-values fit • Flexibility with the innovation and implementation • The innovation is not flawless • Strengthening the climate for implementation • Resource needs and availability • Partner engagement • Surgeon champions and involvement. Conclusions: An improved understanding of the multilevel factors influencing the implementation of innovations is critical to planning effective change interventions in health care. Further study is needed to explore differences in the use of the innovation between breast and colorectal cancer surgeons. Findings will inform the study of additional cases of synoptic reporting implementation, enabling cross-case analyses and identification of higher-level themes that may be applied in similar settings or contexts. © 2011 Multimed Inc.


Urquhart R.,Cancer Outcomes Research Program | Rayson D.,Dalhousie University | Rayson D.,Atlantic Clinical Cancer Research Unit | Porter G.A.,Dalhousie University | And 2 more authors.
Healthcare Policy | Year: 2011

Reliable chemotherapy data are critical to evaluate the quality of care for patients with colorectal cancer who are treated with curative intent. In Canada, limitations in the availability and completeness of chemotherapy data exist in many administrative health databases. In this paper, we discuss these limitations and present findings from a chart review in Nova Scotia that quantifies the completeness of chemotherapy capture in existing databases. The results demonstrate that even basic information on cancer treatment in administrative databases can be insufficient to perform the types of analyses that most decision-makers require for quality-of-care measurement.


Corkum M.,Dalhousie University | Hayden J.A.,Dalhousie University | Kephart G.,Dalhousie University | Urquhart R.,Cancer Outcomes Research Program | And 3 more authors.
Journal of Cancer Survivorship | Year: 2013

Purpose: The goal of this study was to synthesize evidence comparing cancer screening receipt between cancer survivors and non-cancer controls by conducting a systematic review and meta-analysis. Methods: We searched PubMed, EMBASE, and CINAHL databases from inception through April 1, 2010 using search terms related to cancer, survivorship, and cancer screening. Studies were included if they reported a comparison of cancer screening receipt between cancer survivors and non-cancer controls. We performed a meta-analysis on the effect of cancer survivorship on breast, cervical, colorectal, and prostate cancer screening receipt. Results: Our search strategy identified 1,778 titles, of which 20 met our inclusion/exclusion criteria. In our meta-analyses, cancer survivors were more likely to be screened for breast, cervical, colorectal, and prostate cancer than non-cancer controls (pooled odds ratio, 1.27; 95 % CI, 1.19-1.36). We observed significant heterogeneity between studies, most of which remained unexplained after subgroup and sensitivity analyses. Important contextual factors, such as how screening programs operate, were not reported in the primary literature. Many cancer survivors (along with non-cancer controls) still did not receive cancer screening. Conclusion: Compared with non-cancer controls, cancer survivors receive more frequent screening for new primary breast, cervical, colorectal, and prostate cancers. Future research should seek to determine whether increased uptake of cancer screening is associated with improved outcomes during cancer survivorship. Implications for Cancer Survivors: Our systematic review and meta-analysis demonstrated that cancer survivors received more frequent screening for second primary breast, cervical, colorectal, and prostate cancers than non-cancer controls. As many cancer survivors are at an increased risk of developing a second primary cancer, future research should seek to determine whether this increased uptake of cancer screening in cancer survivors leads to improved outcomes during cancer survivorship. © 2013 The Author(s).


Maddison A.R.,Dalhousie University | Asada Y.,Dalhousie University | Urquhart R.,Cancer Outcomes Research Program
Cancer Causes and Control | Year: 2011

Despite the policy and research attention on ensuring equitable access-equal access for equal need- to health care, research continues to identify inequities in access to cancer services. We conducted a literature review to identify the current state of knowledge about inequity in access to cancer health services in Canada in terms of the continuum of care, disease sites, and dimensions of inequity (e.g., income). We searched MEDLINE, CINAHL, and Embase for studies published between 1990 and 2009. We retrieved 51 studies, which examine inequity in access to cancer services from screening to end-of-life care, for multiple cancer types, and a variety of socioeconomic, geographic, and demographic factors that may cause concern for inequity in Canada. This review demonstrates that income has the most consistent influence on inequity in access to screening, while age and geography are most influential for treatment services and end-of-life care, even after adjusting for patient need. Our review also reports on methods used in the literature and new techniques to explore. Equitable access to cancer care is vitally important in all health systems. Obtaining information on the current status of inequities in access to cancer care is a critical first step toward action. © Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010.


Maddison A.R.,Dalhousie University | Asada Y.,Dalhousie University | Urquhart R.,Cancer Outcomes Research Program | Johnston G.,Dalhousie University | And 2 more authors.
Healthcare Policy | Year: 2012

Cancer continues to be one of the heaviest burdens of disease in Canada, and assessing potential inequities in access to cancer care may serve as a barometer of the health of Canadian health systems. This study tackled three limitations of the current literature by clearly differentiating between inequality and inequity, by assessing inequity in receipt of care and wait times for care, and by taking advantage of inequity indices to enhance comparability of inequities between studies and populations. We measured income-, age-, sex- and distance-related inequities among colorectal cancer (CRC) patients in Nova Scotia by accounting for clinical guidelines and patient need. Results reveal statistically significant inequity in access to chemotherapy and radiotherapy for CRC by age, sex and distance, but not income. This study demonstrates the importance of carefully examining inequity in access to cancer care and highlights one method to report and compare inequities with conceptual clarity.

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