Journal of Cancer Education

, Volume 33, Issue 5, pp 947–953 | Cite as

Most National Cancer Institute-Designated Cancer Center Websites Do Not Provide Survivors with Information About Cancer Rehabilitation Services

  • Julie K. SilverEmail author
  • Vishwa S. Raj
  • Jack B. Fu
  • Eric M. Wisotzky
  • Sean Robinson Smith
  • Sasha E. Knowlton
  • Alexander J. Silver


This study is the first to evaluate the existence and quality of patient-related cancer rehabilitation content on the websites of National Cancer Institute (NCI)-Designated Cancer Centers. In 2016, a team of cancer rehabilitation physicians (physiatrists) conducted an analysis of the patient-related rehabilitation content on the websites of all NCI-Designated Cancer Centers that provide clinical care (N = 62 of 69). The main outcome measures included qualitative rating of the ease of locating descriptions of cancer rehabilitation services on each website, followed by quantitative rating of the quality of the cancer rehabilitation descriptions found. More than 90% of NCI-Designated Cancer Centers providing clinical care did not have an easily identifiable patient-focused description of or link to cancer rehabilitation services on their website. Use of a website’s search box and predetermined terms yielded an additional 13 descriptions (21%). Therefore, designers of nearly 70% of the websites evaluated overlooked an opportunity to present a description of cancer rehabilitation services. Moreover, only 8% of the websites included accurate and detailed information that referenced four core rehabilitation services (physiatry and physical, occupational and speech therapy). Further research is needed to confirm the presence of cancer rehabilitation services and evaluate access to these types of services at NCI-Designated Cancer Centers providing clinical care.


Cancer Physical and rehabilitation medicine Survivorship Patient-centered care Patient education 



The authors wish to thank Julie A. Poorman, Ph.D., for her help with manuscript preparation.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

This research has not been previously published or presented and did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors. None of the authors have disclosures to report. This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors and was deemed exempt from informed consent requirements and institutional review board approval.


  1. 1.
    Stout NL, Silver JK, Raj VS, Rowland J, Gerber L, Cheville A, Ness KK, Radomski M, Nitkin R, Stubblefield MD, Morris GS, Acevedo A, Brandon Z, Braveman B, Cunningham S, Gilchrist L, Jones L, Padgett L, Wolf T, Winters-Stone K, Campbell G, Hendricks J, Perkins K, Chan L (2016) Towards a national initiative in cancer rehabilitation: recommendations from a subject matter expert group. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 97(11):2006–2015. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2016.05.002 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Silver JK, Baima J, Mayer RS (2013) Impairment-driven cancer rehabilitation: an essential component of quality care and survivorship. CA Cancer J Clin 63(5):295–317. doi: 10.3322/caac.21186 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Silver JK, Raj VS, Fu JB, Wisotzky EM, Smith SR, Kirch RA (2015) Cancer rehabilitation and palliative care: critical components in the delivery of high-quality oncology services. Support Care Cancer 23(12):3633–3643. doi: 10.1007/s00520-015-2916-1 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Commission on Cancer (2015) Cancer program standards 2016: ensuring patient-centered care. American College of Surgeons, Chicago, ILGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Parikh RB, Kirch RA, Brawley OW (2015) Advancing a quality-of-life agenda in cancer advocacy: beyond the war metaphor. JAMA Oncol 1(4):423–424. doi: 10.1001/jamaoncol.2015.0925 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Cheville AL, Troxel AB, Basford JR, Kornblith AB (2008) Prevalence and treatment patterns of physical impairments in patients with metastatic breast cancer. J Clin Oncol 26(16):2621–2629. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2007.12.3075 CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Pergolotti M, Deal AM, Lavery J, Reeve BB, Muss HB (2015) The prevalence of potentially modifiable functional deficits and the subsequent use of occupational and physical therapy by older adults with cancer. J Geriatr Oncol 6(3):194–201. doi: 10.1016/j.jgo.2015.01.004 CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    NCI-designated cancer centers. National Cancer Institute. Accessed 3 Jan 2016
  9. 9.
    Prestin A, Vieux SN, Chou WY (2015) Is online health activity alive and well or flatlining? Findings from 10 years of the health information national trends survey. J Health Commun 20(7):790–798. doi: 10.1080/10810730.2015.1018590 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    McHugh SM, Corrigan M, Morney N, Sheikh A, Lehane E, Hill AD (2011) A quantitative assessment of changing trends in internet usage for cancer information. World J Surg 35(2):253–257. doi: 10.1007/s00268-010-0830-8 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Valero-Aguilera B, Bermudez-Tamayo C, Garcia-Gutierrez JF, Jimenez-Pernett J, Cozar-Olmo JM, Guerrero-Tejada R, Alba-Ruiz R (2014) Information needs and internet use in urological and breast cancer patients. Support Care Cancer 22(2):545–552. doi: 10.1007/s00520-013-2009-y CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Wasserman M, Baxter NN, Rosen B, Burnstein M, Halverson AL (2014) Systematic review of internet patient information on colorectal cancer surgery. Dis Colon rectum 57(1):64–69. doi: 10.1097/DCR.0000000000000011 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    McEwen S, Rodriguez AM, Martino R, Poon I, Dunphy C, Rios JN, Ringash J (2016) “I didnʼt actually know there was such a thing as rehab”: survivor, family, and clinician perceptions of rehabilitation following treatment for head and neck cancer. Support Care Cancer 24(4):1449–1453. doi: 10.1007/s00520-015-3021-1 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    ASCO answers: Cancer survivorship (2014) Alexandria, VA: American Society of Clinical OncologyGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Health topics a-z (2015) National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). Accessed 21 June 2016
  16. 16.
    Chakraborty R, Savani BN, Litzow M, Mohty M, Hashmi S (2015) A perspective on complementary/alternative medicine use among survivors of hematopoietic stem cell transplant: benefits and uncertainties. Cancer 121(14):2303–2313. doi: 10.1002/cncr.29382 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Cristian A, Tran A, Patel K (2012) Patient safety in cancer rehabilitation. Phys Med Rehabil Clin N Am 23(2):441–456. doi: 10.1016/j.pmr.2012.02.015 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Smith SR, Reish AG, Andrews C (2015) Cancer survivorship: a growing role for physiatric care. PM R 7(5):527–531. doi: 10.1016/j.pmrj.2014.12.004 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© American Association for Cancer Education 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Julie K. Silver
    • 1
    Email author
  • Vishwa S. Raj
    • 2
  • Jack B. Fu
    • 3
  • Eric M. Wisotzky
    • 4
  • Sean Robinson Smith
    • 5
  • Sasha E. Knowlton
    • 1
  • Alexander J. Silver
    • 6
  1. 1.Harvard Medical School, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation & Spaulding Rehabilitation HospitalMassachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s HospitalCharlestownUSA
  2. 2.Department of Physical Medicine and RehabilitationCarolinas RehabilitationCharlotteUSA
  3. 3.Department of Palliative, Rehabilitation and Integrative MedicineUniversity of Texas MD Anderson Cancer CenterHoustonUSA
  4. 4.MedStar National Rehabilitation NetworkWashingtonUSA
  5. 5.University of Michigan Department of Physical Medicine & RehabilitationAnn ArborUSA
  6. 6.Department of HematologyBrigham and Women’s HospitalBostonUSA

Personalised recommendations