The use of cancer treatment summaries and care plans among Massachusetts physicians

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Medicine, Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine

Publication Date


Document Type



Neoplasms; Patient Care Planning; Physician's Practice Patterns


Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Neoplasms | Preventive Medicine


PURPOSE: Cancer survivorship presents many challenges for affected individuals and their health care providers. Reports from The Institute of Medicine document these challenges and recommend the use of survivorship treatment summaries and care plans to improve communication and coordination of care for cancer survivors. The purpose of our study was to assess current use of treatment summaries and care plans in Massachusetts and identify obstacles to greater use.

METHODS: A survey was mailed to cancer specialist physicians (CSPs) and primary care physicians (PCPs) in Massachusetts. The survey asked CSPs about their preparation of treatment summaries and care plans for their cancer survivor patients and perceived barriers to the provision of these documents. PCPs were asked about receipt and utility of treatment summaries and care plans and information they would like to see in these reports.

RESULTS: One hundred eight CSPs and 400 PCPs answered the survey. Fifty-six percent of CSPs reported that they, or their staff, prepared treatment summaries for their cancer survivor patients; however, only 14% reported preparing care plans. Fifty-four percent of PCPs reported ever receiving a treatment summary, but only 16% ever received a care plan. CSPs cited lack of training, reimbursement, and templates as barriers to preparing care plans.

CONCLUSIONS: Interventions are needed to make treatment summaries and care plans a part of standard care for all cancer survivors. Increasing the use of treatment summaries and care plans will require specific training and reimbursement and may be facilitated by templates that capture automated data.

DOI of Published Version



Support Care Cancer. 2012 Jul;20(7):1579-83. Epub 2012 Apr 14. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Supportive care in cancer : official journal of the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID