HumanInsight Disparities in the uptake of telemedicine and implications for clinical trial enrollment in breast cancer patients
Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2022 Oct 20:S0360-3016(22)03447-2. doi: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2022.10.016. Online ahead of print.
PURPOSE/OBJECTIVES: Since the COVID-19 pandemic, telemedicine has emerged as an alternative to office visits in routine radiation oncology practice. The purpose of this study was to identify factors associated with patient preference for an initial consult via telemedicine and correlation with clinical trial enrollment.
MATERIALS/METHODS: We evaluated breast cancer patients seen during the open enrollment of a prospective randomized trial from 06/01/2020 to 05/13/2021. Univariate and multivariate logistic regression models were used to identify factors associated with virtual vs in-person initial consultation. All statistical tests were two-sided and the null hypothesis was rejected for p<0.05.
RESULTS: We identified 476 patient consultations with 259 office visits and 217 telemedicine visits. On multivariate analysis, increased age, unemployment, chemotherapy receipt and radiation at our institution were associated with decreased usage of telemedicine for consultation visit. Out of 217 patients who underwent a telemedicine initial consultation, 10% were eligible to enroll on the trial and of those eligible, 76% enrolled. Out of 259 patients who underwent office visit initial consultation, 14% were eligible to enroll on the trial and of those eligible, 53% enrolled. Among eligible patients, there was no statistically significant difference in clinical trial enrollment between telemedicine and office visits.
CONCLUSION: Older patients, unemployed patients, those receiving chemotherapy and those who subsequently received radiation at our institution were less likely to use telemedicine for their initial consult. Despite these disparities in telemedicine usage, there was no difference in clinical trial enrollment. Telemedicine may be an effective platform for clinical trial enrollment though further strategies to improve its access are essential.
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