The following article features coverage from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) 2018 meeting. Click here to read more of Cancer Therapy Advisor‘s conference coverage.

Symptom assessment intervention led by a lay health worker with nurse practitioner supervision significantly improved patient satisfaction and reduced health care use and costs, according to a presentation at the 2018 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting in Chicago, Illinois, on Friday,  June 1.1

The lay health workers used phone calls to assess symptoms on a weekly basis for high-risk patients and on a monthly basis for low-risk patients. The researchers implemented the intervention in an oncology group with collaboration from a health plan to test the effect on patient-reported outcomes, health care use, and cost. For the study, 288 patients were enrolled: 186 were assigned to the intervention arm and 102 were assigned to the control arm. The median age of patients was 78, 55% of study participants were female, and the highest proportion of diagnoses were gastrointestinal malignancies across both arms of the study. Patients were enrolled between November 2014 and September 2015 and all patients had stage 3 or 4 cancer. The researchers evaluated patient-reported satisfaction, emotional health, and mental health using validated assessments both at enrollment and 5 months after enrollment.

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The researchers found significant improvements in both mental and emotional health (P < .05) and satisfaction with care (P < .05) when comparing 5-month  follow up to baseline.

Furthermore, patients who received symptom assessment intervention led by a lay health worker had significantly lower mean number of inpatient admissions per quarter (0.72 vs 1.02, P = .03); mean number of emergency department visits per quarter (0.61 vs 0.92, P = .04), and lower median total healthcare costs ($22,344 vs $28,414, P = .03) when compared with patients in the control arm of the study.

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The researchers concluded that lay health workers conducting symptom assessment “may represent one solution to improve care for patients.”

Read more of Cancer Therapy Advisor‘s coverage of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) 2018 meeting by visiting the conference page.


  1. Patel MI, Ramirez D, Agajanian R, et al.  The effect of a lay health worker-led symptom assessment intervention for patients on patient-reported outcomes, healthcare use, and total costs. J Clin Oncol. 2018: 36, (suppl; abstr 6502). Presented at 2018 ASCO Annual Meeting; June 1-5, 2018; Chicago, IL.