By January 2015, oncology care providers will be expected to craft Survivorship Care Plans (SCPs) for all individuals ending active treatment for cancer; however, there is a lack of systematic study of the impact survivorship planning has on patients, providers, or healthcare systems. The Polaris Oncology Survivorship Transition (POST) program is a web-based system that incorporates recommendations from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and American College of Surgeons (ACS) to assist with cancer survivorship planning. It is a patient-centered approach that integrates input from both the treating oncology team and the patient. Phase I built and iteratively modified (N=25) the POST system and Phase II will test whether the SCPs impact patient and provider outcomes using a single blind, randomized controlled trial (RCT). Breast cancer patients (n=230) transitioning out of active treatment will be recruited and randomly assigned to receive Treatment as Usual (n=115) or the POST (n=115). All participants will be assessed at 1, 3, and 6 months by a research assistant blind to baseline status and group assignment. Primary outcomes will include quality of life, mechanisms of action such as confidence in entering survivorship, and other outcomes such as (1) psychological distress, (2) adherence to medical and behavioral health recommendations, (3) health care utilization, (4) patient satisfaction with the SCP and their oncologists' care, and (5) oncology provider as well as PCP satisfaction with the POST system. The POST will innovate the clinical setting through being the first system to produce computer generated tailored survivorship plans fully reflecting IOM recommendations and the new ACS 2015 requirements; incorporating information from both the oncology provider and the patient; featuring readily available plug in for two-way electronic health record integration; providing dynamic, electronic referrals for specialized support services; and facilitating care coordination between the oncologist and PCP. This study's impact will be significant. If hypotheses are confirmed, clear scientific evidence will exist for supporting survivorship care planning into oncology clinical practice. If hypotheses are disconfirmed, important lessons will guide future directions for care planning, including whether failure to affect outcomes was due to failure to impact several hypothesized mechanisms of action. Commercial interest in the POST is brisk as it may facilitate survivorship planning, improve care, and improve compliance with accreditation standards.

Public Health Relevance

The POST's public health impact is likely to be substantial because it will improve cancer survivorship planning, which is currently an important deficiency in cancer care recognized by the Institute of Medicine and the American College of Surgeons. The POST may have many potential benefits for patients such as: (1) improved long-term health outcomes; (2) improved psychosocial outcomes and quality of life; (3) smoother transitions back into old and new life roles; and (4) improved continuity and coordination of care between providers. Most importantly, the POST's influence may reach beyond the patients it directly serves as it could help scientists and health care providers understand the potential benefits of cancer survivorship planning and how to best design and implement survivorship planning when patients are ending treatment for cancer.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Grants - Phase II (R42)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-RPHB-C (10))
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Weber, Patricia A
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Polaris Health Directions, Inc.
United States
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