Background: Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) progresses with time and, as a result, patients can be challenged by considering multiple treatment options. Importantly, over the past decade, an array of new CLL treatments have emerged, including targeted therapy and immunotherapy options. Health care teams, therefore, play an important role in discussing new treatments with patients to ensure shared decision making. A substantial proportion of patients, however, report not discussing newly approved treatment options with clinicians. Our goal was to understand the sociodemographic and clinical factors associated with doctors' likelihood of discussing new treatment options in a national sample of CLL patients.
Methods: Using data from the Cancer Support Community's Cancer Experience Registry®, our analytic sample included 187 participants who report CLL as their primary diagnosis. The dependent variable in all analyses was a dichotomous, patient-reported indicator of whether or not their doctor discussed new treatment options (e.g., ibrutinib, idealisib, obinutuzumab) with them. Our independent variables included: 1) sociodemographic characteristics: age, gender, education, urbanicity, and race; 2) clinical factors: genetic risk, treatment status, years since diagnosis, CLL risk (low, intermediate or high; based on patient report of how doctor estimated their CLL may progress over time), and relapse; and 3) patient-clinician communication: patient involvement in treatment decision making, patient's consideration of financial cost of care, discussion of health care team's goals for treatment, and discussion of patient's goals for treatment.
Our analyses proceeded in two steps. First, we descriptively compared patients who discuss new treatments with their doctors and those who do not using Student's t-test. Second, multivariate logistic regression models estimated likelihood of doctor discussing new treatment options by sociodemographic, clinical, and patient-provider characteristics. Multiple imputation accounted for missingness in our regression models.
Results: Our sample was 48% female, 96% White, and averaged 62 years of age (SD = 10), with a mean time since diagnosis of 7 years (SD = 5). 18% of our sample reported having a deletion 17p, 22% reported having a deletion 13q, 22% were currently receiving chemotherapy, and 16% reported recurrence of their CLL. 58% of our sample reported discussing new treatment options with their doctor. Descriptively, patients who report higher frequencies of cancer recurrence, intermediate or high risk of their CLL, genetic testing results indicative of deletion 17p and deletion 13q, current chemotherapy, greater involvement in treatment decision making, and lower consideration of financial cost of care were significantly more likely to discuss new treatment options with their doctors. In multivariate models, controlling for all sociodemographic, clinical, and patient-clinician characteristics, our results highlight a greater likelihood of discussing new options among patients who have experienced a relapse of their CLL.
Conclusion: Nearly half of our CLL patients did not report discussing new treatment options with their clinician, raising concerns about whether shared decision-making is really taking place in the era of novel CLL therapeutics. While those who experience a relapse are significantly more likely to discuss new treatment options, unmet needs remain. As new treatments are incorporated into standard of care, greater efforts are needed to enhance shared decision-making at all points of care.
Buzaglo: Vector Oncology: Employment.