3.2   Survey Results

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The clinician survey was completed by 96 medical oncologists from 27 different states. Only clinicians reporting that they treat geriatric patients with cancer were allowed to progress through the survey. The following tables and charts describe the survey completers. Respondents were asked how long they had been in practice (Figure 1) and where their practice was located (eg, academic setting, community, etc) (Table 2). The participants were fairly evenly divided among the categories.

Please indicate the number of years you have been practicing: (after fellowship)

Table 2.  Survey participants by practice setting.

Survey Participation

Practice setting

Respondents, n (%)


42 (44)


32 (33)

Combination academic/community

13 (14)

Free-standing cancer center

8 (8)


1 (1)

Survey respondents were also asked to report on the types of cancers treated and the percentage of geriatric patients (>70 years of age) in their practice. Slightly more than half of the respondents said their electronic health record system assisted in selecting therapy.

4.  Discussion

This needs assessment illuminates both real and perceived needs of individuals treating and managing geriatric patients with cancer. The physicians indicated a strong desire for competence in managing these patients and will be motivated to learn and change if shown evidence of real needs within the content of the program. Through careful analysis of clinical guidelines and literature, interviews, and survey data, the project partners along with clinical experts have identified key clinical gaps and corresponding educational recommendations for continuing professional development.

In regards to treating geriatric patients with cancer, medical oncologists are, in general, only somewhat confident and reported a great number of perceived needs. A historical lack of clinical trial data focused on geriatric patients has left clinicians in the dark on the best approaches for managing the myriad challenges associated with cancer in this patient population. Recently, guidelines, tools, and other specific means of guiding treatment in geriatric patients with cancer have become available, but the results of our analyses indicate clinicians are either unaware of or are not fully utilizing them. Despite this, clinicians have demonstrated here that they appreciate that their clinical practices are in need of improvement, and are clearly willing to alter their clinical practices based on new information.