Gaps in Radiation Therapy Awareness: Results From an Educational Multi-institutional Survey of US Internal Medicine Residents

Narek Shaverdian, Sun Mi Yoo, Ryan Cook, Eric M. Chang, Naomi Jiang, Ye Yuan, Kiri Sandler, Michael Steinberg, Percy Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

Purpose Internists and primary care providers play a growing role in cancer care. We therefore evaluated the awareness of radiation therapy in general and specifically the clinical utility of stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) for early-stage non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) among current US internal medicine residents. Methods and Materials A web-based institutional review board–approved multi-institutional survey was distributed to US internal medicine residency programs. The survey evaluated trainee demographic characteristics, baseline radiation oncology awareness, knowledge of the role of SBRT for early-stage NSCLC, and whether the survey successfully improved awareness. Results Thirty US internal medicine programs participated, with an overall participant response rate of 46% (1177 of 2551). Of the trainees, 93% (n=1076) reported no radiation oncology education in their residency, 39% (n=452) reported confidence in knowing when to consult radiation oncology in an oncologic emergency, and 26% (n=293) reported confidence in knowing when to consult radiation oncology in the setting of a newly diagnosed cancer. Of the participants, 76% (n=850) correctly identified that surgical resection is the standard treatment in operable early-stage NSCLC, but only 50% (n=559) of participants would recommend SBRT to a medically inoperable patient, followed by 31% of participants (n=347) who were unsure of the most appropriate treatment, and 10% (n=117) who recommended waiting to offer palliative therapy. Ninety percent of participants (n=1029) agreed that they would benefit from further training on when to consult radiation oncology. Overall, 96% (n=1072) indicated that the survey increased their knowledge and awareness of the role of SBRT. Conclusions The majority of participating trainees received no education in radiation oncology in their residency, reported a lack of confidence regarding when to consult radiation oncology, and overwhelmingly agreed that they would benefit from further training. These findings should serve as a call to increase the educational collaboration between internal medicine and radiation oncology departments to ensure optimal cancer care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1153-1161
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Volume98
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiation
  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cancer Research

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