Rural–urban disparities in prostate cancer outcomes are relatively clear. This study describes patient care experiences among rural and urban patients, as well as how they impact outcomes.
Patients who live in rural areas tend, on average, to have poor access to healthcare. As a result, they tend to exhibit worse outcomes, and to have lower odds of receiving definitive treatment that cures them of their condition. When analyzing patient care, the concept of “patient care experiences” can be used to understand the overall characteristics that patients experience when receiving care. This includes interactions with their healthcare providers as well as factors such as how long it takes them to get to their place of care, and how easily they are able to communicate with their healthcare providers.
Disparities between rural and urban prostate cancer patients are already clear based on past research, but the way that this impacts patient care experiences is not clear. This retrospective cohort study, published in the journal Cancers, analyzes these patient care experiences among rural and urban patients with prostate cancer.
Rural Patients Receive Less Care than Urban Patients
The data was organized by treatment status and residence in large metro, metro, or rural areas. The study used data from a total of 3779 prostate cancer survivors. Of these, 1798 resided in large metro areas, while 370 resided in rural areas. Of the rural patients, 21.9% were untreated, compared to 16.7% of those in large metra areas.
Untreated patients, in general, reported lower patient care experience scores in many areas, including specialist care and doctor communication. Prostate cancer survivors from rural areas who did receive care reported better care access than other groups. More rural survivors also received definitive care within one month of diagnosis than did their large metro counterparts.
Rural–Urban Prostate Cancer Disparities Show a Complex Picture of Overall Care
The results that this study presents show a complex picture of disparate outcomes and access to care, as well as patient care experiences, among rural and urban prostate cancer survivors. Rural survivors were less likely to receive definitive treatment overall. However, in cases where they did receive definite treatment, it was obtained earlier than for those in metro areas. Rural–urban disparities in access to treatment differed by geographic region, further indicating the complex and multivariate nature of rural–urban differences in care compared to other disparities that may exist at the local level. These data show the importance of conducting research into subgroup analysis to uncover disparities that may be hidden otherwise.
Pandit, A. A., Patil, N. N., Mostafa, M., Kamel, M., Halpern, M. T., & Li, C. (2023). Rural-Urban Disparities in Patient Care Experiences among Prostate Cancer Survivors: A SEER-CAHPS Study. Cancers (Basel), 15(7). https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers15071939