Background: In 2007, the provincial cancer agency in Ontario, Canada initiated a wide-scale program to screen for symptoms in the cancer population using the Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale (ESAS). The purpose of this study is to evaluate the impact of screening with ESAS on emergency department (ED) visit rates in women with breast cancer receiving adjuvant chemotherapy.
Patients and methods: This retrospective cohort study used linked administrative health care data from across the province of Ontario, Canada. The cohort included all women aged ≥18 who were diagnosed with stage I-III breast cancer between January 2007 and December 2009 and received adjuvant chemotherapy within 6 months of diagnosis. Using an adjusted recurrent event model, we examined the association of screening with ESAS at a clinic visit on the ED visit rate.
Results: The relative rate of ED visits was 0.57 when prior ESAS screening occurred compared to when it did not. The relative rate of ED visits was 0.83 when the prior number of ESAS screens was modeled as a continuous variable. Alternatively stated, the rate of ED visits was 43 % lower among patients previously screened with ESAS compared to those not previously screened. For each additional prior ESAS assessment, there was a 17 % decreased rate of ED visits.
Conclusions: Our results demonstrate that screening with ESAS is associated with decreased ED visits. To our knowledge, this is the first report on the effectiveness of routinely documenting a patient reported outcome on ED visits, in a real-world setting.