Stakeholder Perspectives on Navigating Evidentiary and Decision Uncertainty in Precision Oncology

J Pers Med. 2022 Jan 1;12(1):22. doi: 10.3390/jpm12010022.


(1) Background: Precision oncology has the potential to improve patient health and wellbeing through targeted prevention and treatment. Owing to uncertain clinical and economic outcomes, reimbursement has been limited. The objective of this pan-Canadian qualitative study was to investigate barriers to precision oncology implementation from the perspectives of health system stakeholders. (2) Methods: We conducted 32 semi-structured interviews with health technology decision makers (n = 14) and clinicians (n = 18) experienced with precision oncology. Participants were recruited using a purposive sampling technique. Interviews were analyzed using thematic analysis. Recruitment continued until two qualitative analysts reached agreement that thematic saturation was reached. (3) Results: While cautiously optimistic about the potential for enhanced therapeutic alignment, participants identified multiple decisional challenges under conditions of evidentiary uncertainty. Decision makers voiced concern over resource requirements alongside small benefitting patient populations and limited evidence supporting patient and health system impacts. Clinicians were comparatively tolerant of evidentiary uncertainty guiding clinical decision-making practices. Clinicians applied a broader definition of patient benefit, focusing on the ability to assist patients making informed clinical decisions. (4) Conclusions: Sustainable precision oncology must balance demand with evidence demonstrating benefit. We show that clinicians and decision makers vary in their tolerance for evolving knowledge, suggesting a need to establish evidentiary standards supporting precision oncology reimbursement decisions.

Keywords: health technology assessment; precision oncology; qualitative interviews.