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Keywords:

  • cancer care;
  • Indigenous;
  • neoplasm;
  • patient navigator

Abstract

Patient navigator programs have evolved to facilitate access to care and improve outcomes for Indigenous cancer patients. We reviewed the scientific literature on patient navigator programs in Indigenous people with cancer. We conducted a review of the published literature up to 13 April 2011. PubMed, MEDLINE and CINAHL databases were searched for original articles on Indigenous patient navigation programs. The review produced eight relevant articles covering two specific programs, the Native Sisters Program and the Walking Forward Program. Program descriptions, patient navigator's roles, cultural aspects and the impact of the programs were described. Patient navigators' roles in the programs varied, as did their qualifications, but importantly, all were Indigenous. Both programs aimed to increase participation in screening, remove barriers to treatment and decrease mortality. The Native Sisters Program documented an increase in adherence to breast screening among navigated American Indian participants, although there were substantial differences in the baseline screening adherence between navigated and non-navigated participants. The Walking Forward Program yielded on average 3 fewer days of treatment delays for navigated American Indians than for non-navigated American Indians. However, adjustments for socioeconomic characteristics and disease characteristics were not described. Although preliminary outcomes are seemingly positive, further rigorous evaluation of quantitative impacts are needed.