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1.  Patient and Physician Decision Styles and Breast Cancer Chemotherapy Use in Older Women: Cancer and Leukemia Group B Protocol 369901 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2012;30(21):2609-2614.
Physician and patient decision styles may influence breast cancer care for patients ≥ 65 years (“older”) because there is uncertainty about chemotherapy benefits in this group. We evaluate associations between decision-making styles and actual treatment.
Data were collected from women treated outside of clinical trials for newly diagnosed stage I to III breast cancer (83% response) from January 2004 through April 2011 in 75 cooperative group sites. Physicians completed a one-time mailed survey (91% response), and clinical data were abstracted from charts. Patient decision style was measured on a five-point scale. Oncologists' preference for prescribing chemotherapy was based on standardized vignettes. Regression and multiple imputation were used to assess associations between chemotherapy and other variables.
There were 1,174 women seen by 212 oncologists; 43% of women received chemotherapy. One-third of women preferred to make their own treatment decision. Patient and physician decision styles were independently associated with chemotherapy. Women who preferred less physician input had lower odds of chemotherapy than women who preferred more input (odds ratio [OR] = 0.79 per 1-point change; 95% CI, 0.65 to 0.97; P = .02) after considering covariates. Patients whose oncologists had a high chemotherapy preference had higher odds of receiving chemotherapy (OR = 2.65; 95% CI, 1.80 to 3.89; P < .001) than those who saw oncologists with a low preference.
Physicians' and older patients' decision styles are each associated with breast cancer chemotherapy use. It will be important to re-evaluate the impact of decision styles when there is greater empirical evidence about the benefits and risks of chemotherapy in older patients.
PMCID: PMC3413274  PMID: 22614985
2.  Knowledge and Willingness to Provide Research Biospecimens Among Foreign-born Latinos Using Safety-net Clinics 
Journal of community health  2013;38(4):652-659.
Latinos tend to be under-represented in cancer research and in bio-repositories.
We conducted a Spanish-language, interviewer-administered cross-sectional survey of 331 foreign-born Latinos from Central and South America attending safety-net clinics in order to describe factors associated with knowledge about and intention to provide bio-specimens for research purposes. We used logistic regression and multiple imputation methods to evaluate associations between socio-cultural measures, medical trust, demographics, as well as knowledge about and intentions to provide bio-specimens.
Almost half (47%) of respondents knew what bio-specimens were, and 67% said that they would provide a specimen after being given information about what this involved; this increased to 72% among those with prior knowledge. Controlling for covariates, Latinos with a high school education and above were more likely to know what a bio-specimen was and to say they would provide bio-specimens than were those with lower levels of education (adjusted OR [aOR] 2.85, 95% CI 1.37-5.96; and 3.49, 95% CI 1.41-8.63, p <.01, respectively). Those with greater social integration were more likely to know about bio-specimens than those with less integration (aOR 2.54, 95% CI 1.45-4.46, p=0.001). Higher endorsement of family values was independently associated with intent to give bio-specimens (aOR 1.11, 95% CI 1.02-1.20, p=0.017 per five-point increase in “familism” score). Medical mistrust was not related to intentions to provide specimens.
Our results suggest that interventions to increase willingness to provide bio-specimens could leverage trusted clinics or social networks and should consider individuals’ education and socio-cultural perspectives.
PMCID: PMC3706511  PMID: 23543371
Biospecimens; Latinos; Culture; Research
3.  A planned, prospective comparison of short-term quality of life outcomes among older breast cancer patients treated with standard chemotherapy in a randomized clinical trial vs. an observational study: CALGB #49907 and #369901✰ 
Journal of geriatric oncology  2013;4(4):353-361.
Patients ≥65 years old (“older”) are often not included in randomized clinical trials (RCT), but when they are, care in an RCT might improve quality of life (QoL). We conducted a prospective comparison of QoL among older women receiving standard chemotherapy from the same cooperative group physicians in an RCT vs. an observational study (“off-trial”).
Older women with invasive, non-metastatic breast cancer (n = 150 RCT; 530 off-trial) were included. Linear mixed-effects models tested associations between chemotherapy on- vs. off-trial and changes in EORTC (European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire) QoL scores over 24 months, controlling for pre-treatment QoL, age, education, tumor factors, comorbidity, and other covariates.
Anthracycline regimens were used by 58% of women treated on-trial vs. 54% of those treated off-trial. Women in the RCT reported an adjusted mean increase of 13.7 points (95% CI 10.2, 17.1) in global QoL at 24 months (vs. mid-treatment), while women treated off-trial had only an adjusted improvement of 7.0 points (95% CI 3.5, 10.4; p = .007 for difference in mean changes). Women in the RCT had significantly greater improvement in emotional function than those treated off-trial, controlling for baseline; they also had greater reductions in therapy side effects and fatigue at 24 months than women off-trial, controlling for covariates.
There may be different QoL trajectories for older women undergoing breast cancer chemotherapy on- vs. off-trial. If confirmed, the results suggest that the extra monitoring and communication within an RCT could provide the infrastructure for interventions to address symptoms and improve QoL for the growing older cancer population.
PMCID: PMC3910230  PMID: 24472479
Older patients; Breast cancer; Chemotherapy; Quality of Life; Randomized clinical trials; Observational studies
4.  Hospice Knowledge and Intentions among Latinos Using Safety-Net Clinics 
Journal of Palliative Medicine  2012;15(9):984-990.
Hospice use is low in Latinos but we know little about explanations for this pattern.
To describe factors associated with knowledge of and intention to use hospice for cancer care.
We conducted a Spanish-language, interviewer-administered cross-sectional survey of 331 Latino immigrants from Central and South America in safety-net clinics. Hospice intentions were measured using a hypothetical scenario. We used logistic regression and multiple imputations to test associations between cultural values, social acculturation, and other variables and knowledge and intentions.
Only 29% knew about hospice and 35% would choose hospice care (once it was defined). Collectivist (group-focused) views (odds ratio [OR] 1.06 per 1-point increase, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.01-1.12, p=.05), endorsing family-centric values (OR 1.03 per 1-point increase, 95% CI 1.01-1.04, p=.004), and higher education were associated with greater hospice knowledge after considering covariates. Greater social ties were also independently associated with greater knowledge, but knowledge was not related to hospice intentions. Individuals who believed in maintaining secrecy about prognosis were 19% less likely to choose hospice than those who did not endorse secrecy (OR 0.81, 95% CI 0.67-0.99, p=.038). The most socially acculturated individuals were significantly more likely to choose hospice than those with less acculturation (OR 1.19 for each 1-unit increase, 95% CI 10.6-1.34, p=.004).
Hospice knowledge may be necessary but is not sufficient to increase hospice use among immigrant Latinos. Latino social networks and organizations may provide a natural leverage point for interventions. Interventions to increase hospice use may need to consider culturally related values.
PMCID: PMC3422069  PMID: 22731515
5.  Physician self-reported treatment of brain metastases according to patients’ clinical and demographic factors and physician practice setting 
Limited data guide radiotherapy choices for patients with brain metastases. This survey aimed to identify patient, physician, and practice setting variables associated with reported preferences for different treatment techniques.
277 members of the American Society for Radiation Oncology (6% of surveyed physicians) completed a survey regarding treatment preferences for 21 hypothetical patients with brain metastases. Treatment choices included combinations of whole brain radiation therapy (WBRT), stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS), and surgery. Vignettes varied histology, extracranial disease status, Karnofsky Performance Status (KPS), presence of neurologic deficits, lesion size and number. Multivariate generalized estimating equation regression models were used to estimate odds ratios.
For a hypothetical patient with 3 lesions or 8 lesions, 21% and 91% of physicians, respectively, chose WBRT alone, compared with 1% selecting WBRT alone for a patient with 1 lesion. 51% chose WBRT alone for a patient with active extracranial disease or KPS=50%. 40% chose SRS alone for an 80 year-old patient with 1 lesion, compared to 29% for a 55 year-old patient. Multivariate modeling detailed factors associated with SRS use, including availability of SRS within one’s practice (OR 2.22, 95% CI 1.46-3.37).
Poor prognostic factors, such as advanced age, poor performance status, or active extracranial disease, correspond with an increase in physicians’ reported preference for using WBRT. When controlling for clinical factors, equipment access was independently associated with choice of SRS. The large variability in preferences suggests that more information about the relative harms and benefits of these options is needed to guide decision-making.
PMCID: PMC3533820  PMID: 23136987
Brain metastases; Stereotactic radiosurgery; Whole brain radiation therapy; Treatment patterns; Physician survey
6.  Associations of physical activity with quality of life and functional ability in breast cancer patients during active adjuvant treatment: the Pathways Study 
Physical activity can improve quality of life (QOL) in breast cancer survivors but little is known about associations of physical activity and QOL during active cancer therapy. We examine associations between activity levels and QOL in a large cohort of breast cancer patients. Women with invasive, non-metastatic breast cancer (n = 2,279) were enrolled between 2006 and 2009 from a managed care organization; assessment were done during active therapy. A physical activity frequency questionnaire was used to calculate the average weekly metabolic equivalent task (MET) hours spent in moderate and vigorous activity during active treatment. QOL was measured by the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Breast Cancer. Linear regression models tested cross-sectional associations of QOL and functional well-being with physical activity and covariates [socio-demographics, comorbidity, body mass index (BMI), clinical variables, social support, and assessment timing]. Physical activity had a significant positive unadjusted association with all QOL sub-scales (except emotional well-being) (all P values < 0.01). Overall QOL was 4.6 points higher for women in the highest quartile of moderate and vigorous activity versus women in the lowest quartile (P < 0.001). In regression models, higher activity was associated with better overall QOL and functional well-being, controlling for covariates (P < 0.05). Increasing BMI was also independently but inversely associated with overall QOL (P < 0.001) but did not explain the relationship of activity and QOL. White women reported the higher levels of activity than minority women and activity was associated with QOL for Whites but not for minority women. Greater physical activity is associated with small but clinically meaningful increases in QOL during active breast cancer care therapy for Whites but this effect is not seen for minority women. If confirmed in longitudinal analyses, these differences may have implications for disparities research.
PMCID: PMC3152655  PMID: 21476003
Breast cancer; Physical activity; Quality of life
7.  Use of Colony-Stimulating Factors With Chemotherapy: Opportunities for Cost Savings and Improved Outcomes 
Myeloid colony-stimulating factors (CSFs) decrease the risk of febrile neutropenia (FN) from high-risk chemotherapy regimens administered to patients at 20% or greater risk of FN, but little is known about their use in clinical practice. We evaluated CSF use in a multiregional population-based cohort of lung and colorectal cancer patients (N = 1849). Only 17% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 8% to 26%) patients treated with high-risk chemotherapy regimens received CSFs, compared with 18% (95% CI = 16% to 20%) and 10% (95% CI = 8% to 12%) of patients treated with intermediate- (10%–20% risk of FN) and low-risk (<10% risk of FN) chemotherapy regimens, respectively. Using a generalized estimating equation model, we found that enrollment in a health maintenance organization (HMO) was strongly associated with a lower adjusted odds of discretionary CSF use, compared with non-HMO patients (odds ratio = 0.44, 95% CI = 0.32 to 0.60, P < .001). All statistical tests were two-sided. Overall, 96% (95% CI = 93% to 98%) of CSFs were administered in scenarios where CSF therapy is not recommended by evidence-based guidelines. This finding suggests that policies to decrease CSF use in patients at lower or intermediate risk of FN may yield substantial cost savings without compromising patient outcomes.
PMCID: PMC3119647  PMID: 21670423

Results 1-7 (7)