The impact of patient navigation on the delivery of diagnostic breast cancer care in the National Patient Navigation Research Program: a prospective meta-analysis


Patient navigation is emerging as a standard in breast cancer care delivery, yet multi-site data on the impact of navigation at reducing delays along the continuum of care are lacking. The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of navigation on reaching diagnostic resolution at specific time points after an abnormal breast cancer screening test among a national sample. A prospective meta-analysis estimated the adjusted odds of achieving timely diagnostic resolution at 60, 180, and 365 days. Exploratory analyses were conducted on the pooled sample to identify which groups had the most benefit from navigation. Clinics from six medical centers serving vulnerable populations participated in the Patient Navigation Research Program. Women with an abnormal breast cancer screening test between 2007 and 2009 were included and received the patient navigation intervention or usual care. Patient navigators worked with patients and their care providers to address patient-specific barriers to care to prevent delays in diagnosis. A total of 4675 participants included predominantly racial/ethnic minorities (74 %) with public insurance (40 %) or no insurance (31 %). At 60 days and 180 days, there was no statistically significant effect of navigation on achieving timely diagnostic care, but a benefit of navigation was seen at 365 days (aOR 2.12, CI 1.36–3.29). We found an equal benefit of navigation across all groups, regardless of race/ethnicity, language, insurance status, and type of screening abnormality. Patient navigation resulted in more timely diagnostic resolution at 365 days among a diverse group of minority, low-income women with breast cancer screening abnormalities.

Trial registrations Identifiers: NCT00613275, NCT00496678, NCT00375024, NCT01569672.

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Funding Sources Supported by NIH Grants U01 CA116892, U01 CA117281, U01CA116903, 01CA116937, U01CA116924, U01CA116885, U01CA116875, U01CA116925, American Cancer Society, including #SIRSG-05-253-01, the Avon Foundation and the Boston Medical Center Carter Disparities Fund.

Additional contributions

The authors greatfully acknowledge Richard Campbell for his statistical support and the contributions of the following members of the Patient Navigation Research Program.

Patient Navigation Research Program Investigators:

Clinical Centers Boston Medical Center and Boston University: Karen M Freund (principal investigator (PI)) and Tracy A Battaglia (co-PI); Denver Health and Hospital Authority: Peter Raich (PI) and Elizabeth Whitley (co-PI); George Washington University Cancer Institute: Steven R Patierno (PI), Lisa M Alexander, Paul H Levine, Heather A Young, Heather J Hoffman, and Nancy L LaVerda; H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute: Richard G Roetzheim (PI), Cathy Meade, and Kristen J Wells; Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board: Victoria Warren-Mears (PI); Northwestern University Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center: Steven Rosen (PI) and Melissa Simon; Ohio State University: Electra D. Paskett (PI); University of Illinois at Chicago and Access Community Health Center: Elizabeth Calhoun (PI) and Julie Darnell; University of Rochester: Kevin Fiscella (PI) and Samantha Hendren; University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio Cancer Therapy and Research Center: Donald Dudley (PI), Kevin Hall, Anand Karnard, and Amelie Ramirez. Program Office National Cancer Institute, Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities: Martha Hare, Mollie Howerton, Ken Chu, Emmanuel Taylor, and Mary Ann Van Dyun. Evaluation Contractor NOVA Research Company: Paul Young and Frederick Snyder.

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Correspondence to Tracy A. Battaglia.

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Research involving human participants

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 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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At all sites with with individual randomization, informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Battaglia, T.A., Darnell, J.S., Ko, N. et al. The impact of patient navigation on the delivery of diagnostic breast cancer care in the National Patient Navigation Research Program: a prospective meta-analysis. Breast Cancer Res Treat 158, 523–534 (2016).

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  • Patient navigation
  • Breast cancer
  • Disparities
  • Care delivery