Journal of Cancer Survivorship

, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp 95–103 | Cite as

Challenges associated with longitudinal survivorship research: attrition and a novel approach of reenrollment in a 6-year follow-up study of older breast cancer survivors

  • Kerri M. Clough-Gorr
  • Aliza K. Fink
  • Rebecca A. Silliman
Article

Abstract

Introduction

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among older women. The vast majority of women with breast cancer become long-term survivors.

Methods

We selected a convenience sample of women with: (1) stage I–IIIa disease, (2) age 65-years or older, and (3) permission from physician to contact. Data were collected over 6-years of follow-up from consenting patients’ medical records, telephone interviews, and the National Death Index. Before year 4 of follow-up we attempted to relocate women lost to follow-up using a single protocol and when successful, invited them to reenroll in the study. In this secondary data-analysis, baseline characteristics were compared among subjects with continuous follow-up, those who reenrolled, died, or were lost to follow-up.

Results

Among 660 subjects, 177 had complete follow-up, 182 reenrolled after a period of non-participation, 171 died, and 130 were lost to follow-up. No important differences were found between reenrolled women and those with continuous follow-up or those lost to follow-up. There were nominal differences in age and comorbidity among women lost to follow-up compared to those with complete follow-up.

Discussion/Conclusions

This study highlights challenges in longitudinal research of cancer survivorship, specifically the potential benefit of reenrollment.

Implications for cancer survivors

Our findings provide a novel and promising approach to surmount some of the challenges in longitudinal research aimed at enhancing knowledge and the overall cancer survivorship experience of older adults.

Keywords

Attrition Older adults Longitudinal research Breast cancer Reenrollment Survivor Survivorship 

Abbreviations

BCS

breast conserving surgery

BMI

body mass index

CDC

Centers for Disease Control

IRB

institutional review board

LA

Los Angeles

MD

medical doctor

MHI5

Mental Health Index 5

MN

Minnesota

MOS

Medical Outcomes Study

NC

North Carolina

NDI

National Death Index

PCP

primary care physician

PFI10

Physical Function Index 10

RI

Rhode Island

SSN

Social Security Number

U.S.

United States.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kerri M. Clough-Gorr
    • 1
    • 3
  • Aliza K. Fink
    • 2
  • Rebecca A. Silliman
    • 1
  1. 1.Boston University Schools of Medicine and Public HealthBostonUSA
  2. 2.Macro International Inc.BethesdaUSA
  3. 3.Boston University Medical CenterBostonUSA

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