Readiness for Implementation of Lung Cancer Screening. A National Survey of Veterans Affairs Pulmonologists

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Abstract

Rationale:

To mitigate the potential harms of screening, professional societies recommend that lung cancer screening be conducted in multidisciplinary programs with the capacity to provide comprehensive care, from screening through pulmonary nodule evaluation to treatment of screen-detected cancers. The degree to which this standard can be met at the national level is unknown.

Objectives:

To assess the readiness of clinical facilities in a national healthcare system for implementation of comprehensive lung cancer screening programs, as compared with the ideal described in policy recommendations.

Methods:

This was a cross-sectional, self-administered survey of staff pulmonologists in pulmonary outpatient clinics in Veterans Health Administration facilities.

Measurements and Main Results:

The facility-level response rate was 84.1% (106 of 126 facilities with pulmonary clinics); 88.7% of facilities showed favorable provider perceptions of the evidence for lung cancer screening, and 73.6% of facilities had a favorable provider-perceived local context for screening implementation. All elements of the policy-recommended infrastructure for comprehensive screening programs were present in 36 of 106 facilities (34.0%); the most common deficiencies were the lack of on-site positron emission tomography scanners or radiation oncology services. Overall, 26.5% of Veterans Health Administration facilities were ideally prepared for lung cancer screening implementation (44.1% if the policy recommendations for on-site positron emission tomography scanners and radiation oncology services were waived).

Conclusions:

Many facilities may be less than ideally positioned for the implementation of comprehensive lung cancer screening programs. To ensure safe, effective screening, hospitals may need to invest resources or coordinate care with facilities that can offer comprehensive care for screening through downstream evaluation and treatment of screen-detected cancers.

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