Can't Find a Way to Your Doctor's Office? It Could Shorten Your Life

WEDNESDAY, April 26, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- Lack of transportation isn't just a hassle. When it delays getting care, it also ups the risk of emergency room use and death in adults, new research shows.

This is especially risky for cancer patients.

“Transportation barriers prevent many patients with cancer from accessing timely and effective care. Lack of reliable and affordable transportation can lead to missed appointments, delayed diagnoses, treatment interruptions, and incomplete follow-up care,” said study author Xuesong Han, scientific director of health services research at the American Cancer Society.

“These factors can worsen the prognosis and quality of life of cancer survivors, as well as increase the costs and burdens on the health care system,” she said in a society news release.

For the study, scientists from the American Cancer Society and Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center identified more than 28,000 adults with a cancer history and more than 470,000 adults without a cancer history from the U.S. National Health Interview Survey 2000 to 2018. They also used linked death files through December 2019.

The researchers defined transportation barriers as delays in care due to lack of transportation and used models to estimate the associations of transportation barriers with ER use and death risk. The team adjusted for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, health insurance, other health issues, functional limitations and region.

“Transportation is a critical health-related social need affecting cancer care quality and equitable access to care,” said lead author Dr. Changchuan Jiang, a medical oncologist at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in Buffalo, N.Y. “Our research shows that value-based, patient-centered approaches are needed to address this critical issue and ensure that no one is left behind in their cancer journey.”

The study found that 2.8% of cancer survivors and 1.7% of adults without a cancer history reported transportation barriers.

Cancer survivors with transportation barriers, as compared with adults without a cancer history or transportation barriers, were more than twice as likely to use the ER. They also had double the risk of death.

Study results were published April 25 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

More information

MD Anderson Cancer Center has more on the struggles of cancer patients.

SOURCE: American Cancer Society, news release, April 25, 2023

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