The Road Less Traveled: Transportation Barriers to Cancer Care Delivery in the Rural Patient Population

Ashley N. Wercholuk, Alexander A. Parikh, Rebecca A. Snyder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations

Abstract

Patients with cancer residing in geographically rural areas experience lower rates of preventative screening, more advanced disease at presentation, and higher mortality rates compared with urban populations. Although multiple factors contribute, access to transportation has been proposed as a critical barrier affecting timeliness and quality of health care delivery in rural populations. Patients from geographically rural regions may face a variety of transportation barriers, including lack of public transportation, limited access to private vehicles, and increased travel distance to specialized oncologic care. A search using PubMed was conducted to identify articles pertaining to transportation barriers to cancer care and tested interventions in rural patient populations. Studies demonstrate that transportation barriers are associated with delayed follow-up after abnormal screening test results, decreased access to specialized oncology care, and lower rates of receipt of guideline-concordant treatment. Low clinical trial enrollment and variability in survivorship care are also linked to transportation barriers in rural patient populations. Given the demonstrated impact of transportation access on equitable cancer care delivery, several interventions have been tested. Telehealth visits and outreach clinics appear to reduce patient travel burden and increase access to specialized care, and patient navigation programs are effective in connecting patients with local resources, such as free or subsidized nonemergency medical transportation. To ensure equal access to high-quality cancer care and reduce geographic disparities, the design and implementation of tailored, multilevel interventions to address transportation barriers affecting rural communities is critical.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)652-662
Number of pages11
JournalJCO Oncology Practice
Volume18
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2022
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Oncology(nursing)
  • Oncology

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