Interventions to Improve Oral Chemotherapy Safety and Quality: A Systematic Review

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With the growing use of oral chemotherapy, there is an urgent need to develop safe and effective systems to administer and manage these agents. A comprehensive synthesis of literature on oral chemotherapy care delivery programs to which clinicians can look for best practices is lacking.


To summarize the peer-reviewed and gray literature on interventions to improve oral chemotherapy care delivery toward describing best practices and identifying current gaps.

Evidence Review

Using search terms pertaining to the concepts of oral chemotherapy, cancer, and interventions and outcomes, we performed a systematic review of PubMed, EMBASE, and CINAHL from January 1995 to May 24, 2016, to identify oral chemotherapy intervention programs. We searched the gray literature from January 1995 through February 2016 and contacted gray literature authors for further information. Four physician abstractors reviewed the titles, abstracts, and articles. Quality of the articles was assessed using SQUIRE2 guidelines. Interventions were evaluated in the categories of prescribing, preparation/dispensing, education, administration, monitoring, and storage/disposal. The population of interest included all ages and was limited to traditional cytotoxic and targeted anticancer oral agents.


From 7984 abstracts identified in the peer-reviewed literature search, 16 full-text articles met inclusion criteria representing 3612 patients. Interventions focused on prescribing (n = 1), preparation/dispensing (n = 2), education (n = 11), administration (n = 5), monitoring (n = 14), and storage/disposal (n = 1). In the 10 articles with adherence as the primary outcome, 4 evaluation methods were used. Most improvements were seen in toxic effects/safety compared with adherence. Of the 7 interventions with statistically significant improvement in the primary outcome, 3 nursing phone calls to contact patients within the first few days after treatment initiation, 2 of them with standardized toxic effects management protocols. Interventions using technology to increase touch points between care teams and patients (including video directly observed therapy, automated voice response, and text messages) were not effective.

Conclusions and Relevance

A framework for the oral chemotherapy management process with standardized outcome definitions is needed to ensure constructive research. Existing data suggest that a monitoring program should include personal contact with patients within the first weeks of treatment. Whether such contact can be enhanced by technology is uncertain.

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