Patient navigation for American Indians undergoing cancer treatment

Utilization and impact on care delivery in a regional healthcare center




A study was undertaken to assess patient navigation utilization and its impact on treatment interruptions and clinical trial enrollment among American Indian cancer patients.


Between February 2004 and September 2009, 332 American Indian cancer patients received patient navigation services throughout cancer treatment. The patient navigation program provided culturally competent navigators to assist patients with navigating cancer therapy, obtaining medications, insurance issues, communicating with medical providers, and travel and lodging logistics. Data on utilization and trial enrollment were prospectively collected. Data for a historical control group of 70 American Indian patients who did not receive patient navigation services were used to compare treatment interruptions among those undergoing patient navigation during curative radiation therapy (subgroup of 123 patients).


The median number of contacts with a navigator was 12 (range, 1-119). The median time spent with the navigator at first contact was 40 minutes (range, 10-250 minutes), and it was 15 minutes for subsequent contacts. Patients treated with radiation therapy with curative intent who underwent patient navigation had fewer days of treatment interruption (mean, 1.7 days; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.1-2.2 days) than historical controls who did not receive patient navigation services (mean, 4.9 days; 95% CI, 2.9-6.9 days). Of the 332 patients, 72 (22%; 95% CI, 17%-26%) were enrolled on a clinical treatment trial or cancer control protocol.


Patient navigation was associated with fewer treatment interruptions and relatively high rates of clinical trial enrollment among American Indian cancer patients compared with national reports. Cancer 2011. © 2010 American Cancer Society.