Effects of patient navigation on satisfaction with cancer care: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Support Care Cancer. 2018 May;26(5):1369-1382. doi: 10.1007/s00520-018-4108-2. Epub 2018 Mar 1.


Purpose: Patient navigation (PN) is a model of healthcare coordination designed to reduce barriers to achieving optimal health outcomes. Systematic reviews evaluating whether PN is associated with higher patient satisfaction with cancer care are lacking.

Methods: We conducted a systematic review to synthesize evidence of comparative studies evaluating the effectiveness of PN programs to improve satisfaction with cancer-related care. We included studies reported in English that: (1) evaluated a PN intervention designed to increase satisfaction with cancer care; and (2) involved a randomized controlled trial (RCT) or non-RCT approach. Standardized forms were used to abstract data from studies. These data were evaluated for methodological quality, summarized qualitatively, and synthesized under a random effects model.

Results: The initial search yielded 831 citations. Nine met inclusion criteria. Five had adequate data (1 RCT and 4 non-RCTs) to include in the meta-analysis. Methodological quality of included studies ranged from weak to strong, with half rated as weak. Findings of the RCTs showed a statistically significant increase in satisfaction with cancer care involving PN (standardized mean difference (SMD) = 2.30; 95% confidence interval 1.79, 2.80, p < 0.001). Pooled results from non-RCTs showed no significant association between PN and satisfaction with cancer-related care (standardized mean difference = 0.39; 95% confidence interval - 0.02, 0.80, p = 0.06).

Conclusions: Although PN has been widely implemented to improve cancer care, high-quality studies are needed to characterize the relationship between PN and satisfaction with cancer-related care.

Keywords: Cancer early detection; Meta-analysis; Patient navigation; Patient satisfaction; Systematic review.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Patient Navigation / methods*
  • Patient Satisfaction