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Rates and predictors of visits to primary care physicians during and after treatment of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia: a population-based cohort study


Introduction — Patient re-engagement with primary care physicians (PCPs) after cancer treatment is essential to facilitate survivorship care and to meet non-oncology primary care needs. We identified rates and predictors of PCP visits both during and after treatment among a population-based cohort of children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).

Methods — Children of age less than 18 years at ALL diagnosis in Ontario between 2002 and 2012 were linked to administrative data and matched to controls without cancer. PCPs at diagnosis were identified and PCP visit rates during treatment compared between patients and controls. Post-treatment PCP visit rates were also calculated. Predictors included demographic-, disease-, and PCP-related variables.

Results — A total of 743/793 (94%) patients and 3112/3947 (79%) controls had a PCP at diagnosis. Almost half of patients (361/743, 45%) did not visit their PCP during treatment. Visit rate during treatment was 0.64 per person per year (PPPY) versus 1.4 PPPY among controls (adjusted rate ratio [aRR] 0.47, 95th confidence interval [95CI]: 0.40–0.54; p < .0001). No disease- or PCP-related factors were associated with visit rates. Total 711 patients completed frontline therapy; 287 (40.4%) did not have a PCP visit after treatment. Nonetheless, survivors overall visited PCPs post treatment more often than controls (aRR 1.4, 95CI: 1.2–1.6; p < .0001). Survivors who saw their PCP during treatment had post-treatment visit rates twice that of other survivors (aRR 2.0, 95CI: 1.6–2.5; p < .0001).

Conclusions — Only a portion of children with ALL see their PCPs during treatment and return to PCP care following treatment completion. Post-treatment engagement with PCPs may be improved by PCP involvement during ALL treatment.



Breakey VR, Sutradhar R, Nathan PC, Patel S, Wheaton L, Li Q, Bassal M, Gibson P, Pole JD, Athale U, Gupta S. Pediatr Blood Cancer. 2023; Aug 3 [Epub ahead of print].

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