Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 28, Issue 2, pp 645–652 | Cite as

Primary care physicians’ perspectives of the survivorship care for older breast cancer survivors: a pilot study

  • Jessica L. Krok-SchoenEmail author
  • Jennifer DeSalvo
  • Dori Klemanski
  • Christian Stephens
  • Anne M. Noonan
  • Seuli Brill
  • Maryam B. Lustberg
Original Article



To evaluate primary care physicians’ (PCPs) role in survivorship care of older breast cancer survivors, their experiences and opinions of survivorship care plans (SCPs), and suggestions for improving care coordination and facilitation of SCPs among older (≥ 65 years) breast cancer survivors.


A web-based questionnaire was completed individually by PCPs about their training and what areas of survivorship they address under their care. A subset of survey participants were interviewed about survivorship care, care coordination, and the appropriateness and effects of SCPs on older breast cancer survivors’ outcomes.


Physician participants (N = 29) had an average of 13.5 years in practice. PCPs surveyed that their main role was to provide general health promotion and their least common role was to manage late- and/or long-term effects. Semi-structured interviews indicated that the majority of PCPs did not receive a SCP from their patients’ oncologists and that communication regarding survivorship care was poor. Participants’ suggestions for improvements to SCPs and survivorship care included regular communication with oncologists, delegation from oncologists regarding roles, and mutual understanding of each other’s roles.


PCPs indicated that survivorship care and SCPs should be improved, regarding communication and roles related to their patients’ survivorship. PCPs should assume an active role to enhance PCP-oncologist communication. Future research in PCPs’ role in survivorship care in a broad, diverse cancer survivor population is warranted.

Implications for cancer survivors

More attention needs to focus on the importance of PCPs, as they are an integral part of dual management for older breast cancer survivors post-treatment.


Cancer survivorship Survivorship care plans Primary care physicians Care coordination Geriatrics 



This study was financially supported by the Clinical and Translational Science Award (UL1TR001070) from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Health Sciences, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, College of MedicineThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA
  2. 2.Comprehensive Cancer Center-James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research InstituteThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA
  3. 3.College of MedicineThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA
  4. 4.Department of Internal Medicine, College of MedicineThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA

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