Exploring access to care from the perspective of patients with breast cancer: A qualitative study

Objectives: Patients face a myriad of personal and system-based challenges in accessing breast cancer care, but less is known about access as expressed and experienced by patients themselves. The objective of this qualitative study was to further explore the breadth of issues related to access from the perspective of patients with breast cancer across their care journey.

Methods: Twelve women participated in 1-h semi-structured interviews and 48 women participated in 2-h focus groups at six oncology practices in 2018. Grounded theory was used to analyze the data.

Results: Six primary themes emerged concerning access to care: information, psychosocial support, health insurance, financial resources, timeliness, and emotions.

Conclusions: This study identified six core dimensions of access to care. Access encompassed not only gaining entrée to care services-in the traditional sense of access-but also the continuing support needed to effectively use those services throughout the cancer care journey. Future strategies aimed at improving access to breast cancer care should attend to these ongoing patient-centric and system-based issues which are mostly amenable to change.

Keywords: breast cancer; cancer management; psychosocial studies; women's cancer.