Importance of primary care for underserved cancer patients with multiple chronic conditions

Katelyn K. Jetelina, Simon Craddock Lee, Quiera S. Booker-Nubie, Udoka C. Obinwa, Hong Zhu, Michael E. Miller, Navid Sadeghi, Umber Dickerson, Bijal A. Balasubramanian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Purpose: To understand the impact of pre-existing conditions on healthcare utilization among under- and uninsured patients in the transition from cancer treatment to post-treatment survivorship. Methods: Using electronic health record data, we constructed a cohort of patients seen in an integrated county health system between 1/1/2010 and 12/31/2016. Six hundred thirty-one adult patients diagnosed with non-metastatic breast or colorectal cancer during this period (cases) were matched 1:1 on sex and Charlson comorbidity index to non-cancer patients who had at least two chronic conditions and with at least one visit to the health system during the study period (controls). Conditional fixed effects Poisson regression models compared number of primary care and emergency department (ED) visits and completed [vs. no show or missed] appointments between cancer and non-cancer patients. Results: Cancer patients had significantly lower number of visits compared with non-cancer patients (N = 46,965 vs. 85,038). Cancer patients were less likely to have primary care (IRR = 0.25; 95% CI: 0.24, 0.27) and ED visits (IRR = 0.57; 95% CI: 0.50, 0.64) but more likely to complete a scheduled appointment (AOR = 4.83; 95% CI: 4.32, 5.39) compared with non-cancer patients. Cancer patients seen in primary care at a higher rate were more likely to visit the ED (IRR = 2.06; 95% CI: 1.52, 2.80) than those seen in primary care at a lower rate. Conclusion: Health systems need to find innovative, effective solutions to increase primary care utilization among cancer patients with chronic care conditions to ensure optimal management of both chronic conditions and cancer. Implications for Cancer Survivors: Maintaining regular connections with primary care providers during active cancer treatment should be promoted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Cancer Survivorship
StateAccepted/In press - 2022


  • Complex cancer
  • Healthcare utilization
  • Primary care
  • Safety-net

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Oncology(nursing)


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