Providing oncologists with geriatric assessment (GA) summaries increases the likelihood that they will initiate conversations with patients about functional or physical performance, according to a study published in JAMA Network Open.

Oncologists in the intervention arm of the study received a full GA summary with a list of associated management recommendations that could help address functional or physical impairments.

The study was a secondary analysis of a cluster randomized clinical trial ( Identifier: NCT02107443). The trial was designed to evaluate the effect of a GA intervention on patients’ satisfaction with communication about aging-related concerns.

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In the current analysis, researchers looked at whether the intervention would result in an increase in the proportion of patients having conversations with their oncologists about, or receiving recommendations specific to, functional and physical performance concerns.

The study included 541 patients who were 70 years of age or older. They had stage III or IV solid tumors or lymphoma with palliative treatment intent and impairment of 1 or more GA domain. The practices where patients received care were randomized to the usual care (n=14) or the GA intervention (n=17).

Conversations about functional or physical performance were more common for patients in the GA intervention group than for those receiving usual care, with conversations occurring in 86% and 59% of patients, respectively (P <.001).

Oncologists dismissed or acknowledged patients’ concerns about physical performance and/or functional status at similar rates in both groups. However, 43% of oncologists addressed patients’ concerns in the GA group, compared with 17% in the usual care group (P <.001).

Oncologists in the GA group were more likely than those in the usual care group to give patients referrals (24% vs 5%; P <.001) or provide them with information and education to address concerns (22% vs 4%; P <.001).

“Implementation of GA-based recommendations for functional status and physical performance impairments, such as treatment modification and referral to rehabilitation services, is critical because these interventions have been shown to be associated with improving quality of life and reducing risk for functional decline and death,” the researchers wrote. “Our findings show that a 1-time GA intervention can enhance oncologist-patient communication regarding these critical aging-related concerns, better aligning oncology care with patient priorities.”

Disclosures: Some study authors declared affiliations with biotech, pharmaceutical, and/or device companies. Please see the original reference for a full list of disclosures.


Jensen-Battaglia M, Lei L, Xu H, et al. Association of oncologist-patient communication with functional status and physical performance in older adults: A secondary analysis of a cluster randomized clinical trial. JAMA Netw Open. Published online March 18, 2022. doi:10.10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.3039