Delivery of cancer survivorship education to community health care professionals

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Background: Cancer survivorship care is an integral part of oncology care. Although oncologists overwhelmingly demonstrate a desire to be a part of their cancer survivors’ care and management, only 60% of oncologists feel comfortable promoting healthy lifestyle behaviors, screening and prevention care. There is currently no standard of care for survivorship care education and data evaluating current educational models is limited. Methods: Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) utilizes telehealth to promote long-distance learning and sharing of best practices. We utilized the Project ECHO model to deliver a survivorship curriculum in 6 hourly, biweekly sessions from October 2019 to December 2019. The curriculum was aligned with the 4 central tenets of survivorship care and was developed based on a needs assessment. Recruited participants included registered nurses (RN), registered dietitians (RD), advanced practice providers (APP), radiation oncologists and medical oncologists. Participants were enrolled in either a local ECHO curriculum or a national ECHO curriculum. Local Connecticut participants were invited to participate in semi-structured interviews to evaluate their experience. Results: Eight participants including 3 MDs, 1 APP, 1 SW and 3 RNs from 3 community oncology clinics in suburban Connecticut enrolled in the local ECHO curriculum. Twenty-eight participants including 17 RDs, 2 MDs, and 3 APPs from 13 hospital and community practices enrolled in the national ECHO curriculum. Four participants (50%) agreed to participate in semi-structured interviews. Motivations to participate included ease of participation and interest in survivorship. Participants described a positive experience, citing a well-structured curriculum and sense of community as highlights. Two participants described the sessions as empowering, leading to more discussions and engagement with survivors. All participants described an increased awareness of resources available for cancer survivors. Areas for improvement included greater assistance with technology and session time management. Concomitant patient care was the most cited barrier to participation. Conclusions: This pilot study is the first to demonstrate the feasibility of the Project ECHO model for delivering cancer survivorship education to community oncology providers. Further research evaluating the correlation between improved provider knowledge and survivorship care outcomes is needed.