Purpose: This qualitative study aims to characterize the factors that influence access to fertility preservation (FP) resources and services after cancer diagnosis at NCI Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP) minority/underserved community sites, which serve patient populations comprising at least 30% racial/ethnic minorities or rural residents.
Methods: Phone interviews were conducted from 2014 to 2015 with interested and knowledgeable healthcare providers practicing at NCORP minority/underserved community sites, using a semi-structured interview guide. Data were transcribed, de-identified, and analyzed using qualitative analysis software, Dedoose, to determine the most common themes in access to FP resources and services.
Results: Interviews were conducted with 10 board-certified physicians practicing at 10 of the 12 NCORP minority/underserved community sites; five respondents identified as oncologists, and five were reproductive endocrinology/infertility specialists (n = 4) or obstetricians/gynecologists (n = 1). Findings revealed highly variable access to FP resources at each site. Notable barriers to FP services were cost, time, provider education, lack of clinical guideline application, and perceptions among healthcare providers that negatively affect the discussion of options and risks with eligible patients.
Conclusion: Clinical FP guidelines and resources for cancer patients and healthcare providers need to be better integrated into existing cancer networks that serve minority and underserved patient populations. Providers need more education regarding timely provision of FP services to all newly diagnosed cancer patients of reproductive age.
Keywords: NCORP; disparities; minority; oncofertility; underserved.