Barriers and facilitators to early-stage lung cancer care in the USA: a qualitative study

Support Care Cancer. 2022 Dec 14;31(1):21. doi: 10.1007/s00520-022-07465-w.


Purpose: Improved outcomes in lung cancer treatment are seen in high-volume academic centers, making it important to understand barriers to accessing care at such institutions. Few qualitative studies examine the barriers and facilitators to early-stage lung cancer care at US academic institutions.

Methods: Adult patients with suspected or diagnosed early-stage non-small cell lung cancer presenting to a multidisciplinary lung cancer clinic at a US academic institution over a 6-month period beginning in 2019 were purposively sampled for semi-structured interviews. Semi-structured interviews were conducted and a qualitative content analysis was performed using the framework method. Themes relating to barriers and facilitators to lung cancer care were identified through iterative team-based coding.

Results: The 26 participants had a mean age of 62 years (SD: 8.4 years) and were majority female (62%), white (77%), and urban (85%). We identified 6 major themes: trust with providers and health systems are valued by patients; financial toxicity negatively influenced the diagnostic and treatment experience; social constraints magnified other barriers; patient self-advocacy as a facilitator of care access; provider advocacy could overcome other barriers; care coordination and good communication were important to patients.

Conclusions: We have identified several barriers and facilitators to lung cancer care at an academic center in the US. These factors need to be addressed to improve quality of care among lung cancer patients. Further work will examine our findings in a community setting to understand if our findings are generalizable to patients who do not access a tertiary cancer care center.

Keywords: Access to care; Barriers; Lung cancer; Qualitative research.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ambulatory Care Facilities
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung* / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Advocacy
  • Qualitative Research
  • United States