Editor’s note: According the the NCI, “Patient Navigators are trained, culturally sensitive health care workers who provide support and guidance throughout the cancer care continuum. They help people ‘navigate’ through the maze of doctors’ offices, clinics, hospitals, outpatient centers, insurance and payment systems, patient-support organizations, and other components of the health care system. Services are designed to support timely delivery of quality standard cancer care and ensure that patients, survivors, and families are satisfied with their encounters with the cancer care system.” This article from the ASCO Post describes research that found specific benefits for cancer patients who received help from patient navigators.
“In the Patient Navigation Research Program study reported in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Freund et al found that a patient navigation intervention improved diagnostic resolution and timely treatment initiation in a clinical population comprising predominantly racial/ethnic minorities and publicly insured or uninsured patients.
“Study Details: The study compared patient navigation with usual care in 10,521 patients with abnormal breast, cervical, colorectal, or prostate screening tests and 2,105 with cancer or precancer diagnosis seen at nine centers between 2007 and 2010. The centers recruited patients from care sites that were predominantly community health centers.
“Patient navigators developed individual strategies to address barriers to care and track patients through medical evaluation with a focus on timely diagnostic resolution and initiation of therapy. Navigation was started after a clinician informed the patient of the abnormal test result.”