No Virtue in Virtual Visits

Breast cancer survivors prefer in person clinician visits

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Computers are taking over just about every area of our lives. They're even being used for medical visits. So what are the predominant attitudes about visiting with physicians virtually?

Breast cancer survivors would rather have follow-up visits with medical oncologists, but they find primary care physicians and nurse practitioners acceptable.

Recently surveyed survivors do not, however, feel comfortable with virtual visits with any healthcare provider.

"Let your health provider know how you feel about their communication style."

Erica L. Mayer, M.D., M.P.H, a medical oncologist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institutes, conducted a study to explore various models of comprehensive survivor care. As the number of breast cancer survivors continues to increase, this understanding is needed in order to provide the level of care needed and expected.

A total of 218 breast cancer survivors completed both a general survivorship survey, along with a questionnaire focused breast-cancer follow-up care. These surveys were designed to evaluate opinions and comfort levels about various visit types and settings, including clinician types.

These surveys also measured survivors' perceptions of the impact of these visit types on their cancer survival and worry relating to cancer.

Most participants favored visiting with medical oncologists to reduce their worry and stress around cancer. They also felt these visits were best in terms of their cancer survival.

The survivors were also comfortable with visiting primary care physicians and nurse practitioners for their follow-up care.

However, study participants saw virtual visits as having a less favorable impact on survival and cancer-related stress and worry, compared to in-person clinician visits.

The authors say these findings indicated additional research is needed regarding virtual visits as a possible care model. They conclude that nurse practitioners, being led by primary care physicians, may be "a promising route for improving quality of and satisfaction with survivor care."

This research was published in The Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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Review Date: 
December 22, 2011
Last Updated:
December 25, 2011