Original Article

Disparities in Cancer Survivorship Indicators in the Deep South Based on BRFSS Data: Recommendations for Survivorship Care Plans

Authors: Renee A. Desmond, PhD, Bradford E. Jackson, PhD, John W. Waterbor, MD, DrPH


Objectives: The purpose of this investigation was to describe cancer survivorship based on the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) cancer survivorship modules in Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi, conducted in 2012 and 2014, and to investigate disparities across the US Deep South region.

Methods: The optional BRFSS cancer survivorship module was introduced in 2009. Data from Alabama (2012), Georgia (2012), and Mississippi (2014) were assessed. Demographic factors were analyzed through weighted regression for risk of receiving cancer treatment summary information and follow-up care.

Results: Excluding nonmelanoma skin cancer cases, a total of 1105 adults in the Alabama 2012 survey, 571 adults in the Georgia 2012 survey, and 442 adults in the 2014 Mississippi survey reported ever having cancer and were available for analysis. Among Alabamians, those with a higher level of education (odds ratio [OR] 1.4, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.1–1.7) and higher income (OR 1.3, 95% CI 1.1–1.6) were more likely to receive a written summary of their cancer treatments. Adults older than age 65 were only half as likely to receive a written summary of cancer treatments compared with adults 65 years or younger (OR 0.5, 95% CI 0.3–0.8). We found no significant differences in receipt of treatment summary by race or sex. Among those who reported receiving instructions from a doctor for follow-up care, these survivors tended to have a higher level of education, higher income, and were younger (younger than 65 years). Receipt of written or printed follow-up care was positively associated with higher income (OR 1.4, 95% CI 1.1–1.8) and inversely associated with age older than 65 years (OR 0.9, 95% CI 0.1–0.6) in Georgia.

Conclusions: Addressing the gap identified between survivorship care plan development by the health team and the delivery of it to survivors is important given the evidence of disparities in the receipt of survivorship care plans across survivor age and socioeconomic status in the Deep South.

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