Professionals' barriers in female oncofertility care and strategies for improvement
SourceHuman Reproduction, 34, 6, (2019), pp. 1074-1082
Article / Letter to editor
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SubjectRadboudumc 17: Women's cancers RIHS: Radboud Institute for Health Sciences
STUDY QUESTION: What are healthcare professionals' barriers and strategies for improvement in female oncofertility care? SUMMARY ANSWER: Professionals perceived barriers in knowledge, attitude and organization of oncofertility care and suggested strategies to improve oncofertility care. WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY: The potential loss of fertility is one of the most important undesirable side effects of cancer treatment in women of reproductive age. Unfortunately, despite guideline recommendations, not all patients are informed about their fertility risks and referred for fertility preservation (FP) counselling. Insight into barriers for discussing FP and appropriate referral is necessary before improvements can be made. STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION: The aim of this was study was to identify barriers and gather improvement suggestions through semi-structured in-depth interviews conducted with 24 professionals working in oncofertility care. Subsequently, an expert panel meeting was held to reach consensus on a set of improvement strategies. PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS: Oncological professionals were recruited from the three Dutch expertise hospitals for female FP and their affiliated hospitals. The expert panel consisted of six healthcare professionals, five survivors and two researchers. In the Dutch setting, financial aspects do not play a role in oncofertility care. MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE: Barriers were identified and categorized into the patient level (e.g. focus on surviving cancer), the professional level (e.g. lack of awareness, knowledge, time, and attitude), or the organizational level (e.g. unavailable written information, disagreement on who is responsible for discussing infertility risks). The expert panel reached consensus on essential elements for a multifaceted improvement programme: development of information materials (leaflets, online decision aid), education of professionals, a role for specialized oncology nurses in informing patients and patient navigators at the fertility department to facilitate referral and counselling, medical record reminders, standard consultations with a gynaecologist and agreement on responsibility. LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION: Selection bias could have occurred because it is likely that only professionals with interest in oncofertility care participated. However, this would mean that the barriers were underestimated. WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS: This study forms the basis for the development of a multifaceted oncofertility programme, which is essential to increase adherence to the national clinical guideline. STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTEREST(S): This work was supported by the Radboud university medical center. The authors have declared no competing interests. Prof. Dr Braat reports unrestricted grants from Ferring BV, Serono and Goodlife, outside the submitted work. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: N/A.
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