Regional variation in quality of prostate cancer care

J Urol. 2014 Apr;191(4):957-62. doi: 10.1016/j.juro.2013.10.066. Epub 2013 Oct 19.


Purpose: Despite the endorsement of several quality measures for prostate cancer by the National Quality Forum and the Physician Consortium for Performance Improvement, how consistently physicians adhere to these measures has not been examined. We evaluated regional variation in adherence to these quality measures to identify targets for future quality improvement.

Materials and methods: For this retrospective cohort study we used SEER (Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results)-Medicare data for 2001 to 2007 to identify 53,614 patients with newly diagnosed prostate cancer. Patients were assigned to 661 regions (Hospital Service Areas). Hierarchical generalized linear models were used to examine reliability adjusted regional adherence to the endorsed quality measures.

Results: Adherence at the patient level was highly variable, ranging from 33% for treatment by a high volume provider to 76% for receipt of adjuvant androgen deprivation therapy while undergoing radiotherapy for high risk cancer. In addition, there was considerable regional variation in adherence to several measures, including pretreatment counseling by a urologist and radiation oncologist (range 9% to 89%, p <0.001), avoiding overuse of bone scans in low risk cancer (range 16% to 96%, p <0.001), treatment by a high volume provider (range 1% to 90%, p <0.001) and followup with radiation oncologists (range 14% to 86%, p <0.001).

Conclusions: We found low adherence rates for most established prostate cancer quality of care measures. Within most measures regional variation in adherence was pronounced. Measures with low adherence and a large amount of regional variation may be important low hanging targets for quality improvement.

Keywords: health services research; prostatic neoplasms; quality improvement; quality of health care; small-area analysis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cohort Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Quality of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • United States