Children with cancer from rural and nonurban areas face unique challenges. Health equity for this population requires attention to geographic disparities in optimal survivorship-focused care.
The Oklahoma Childhood Cancer Survivor Cohort was based on all patients reported to the institutional cancer registry and ≤ 18 years old at diagnosis between January 1, 2005, and September 24, 2014. Suboptimal follow-up was defined as no completed oncology-related clinic visit five to 7 years after their initial diagnosis (survivors were 7–25 years old at end of the follow-up period). The primary predictor of interest was rurality.
Ninety-four (21%) of the 449 eligible survivors received suboptimal follow-up. There were significant differences (P = 0.01) as 36% of survivors from large towns (n = 28/78) compared with 21% (n = 20/95) and 17% (n = 46/276) of survivors from small town/isolated rural and urban areas received suboptimal follow-up, respectively. Forty-five percent of adolescents at diagnosis were not seen in the clinic compared with 17% of non-adolescents (P < 0.01). An adjusted risk ratio of 2.2 (95% confidence interval, 1.5, 3.2) was observed for suboptimal follow-up among survivors from large towns, compared with survivors from urban areas. Seventy-three percent of survivors (n = 271/369) had a documented survivorship care plan with similar trends by rurality.
Survivors from large towns and those who were adolescents at the time of diagnosis were more likely to receive suboptimal follow-up care compared with survivors from urban areas and those diagnosed younger than thirteen.
Observed geographic disparities in survivorship care will inform interventions to promote equitable care for survivors from nonurban areas.