The impact of self- and physician-administered cancer treatment on work productivity and healthcare utilization

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Lost productivity in the workplace represents a significant portion of the economic burden of cancer in the United States. Cancer treatments have historically been physician-administered, while recent innovations have led to the development of self-administered, usually oral, agents. Self-administered treatments have the potential to reduce healthcare utilization and time away from work, but the magnitude of these effects is unknown.


To compare the effects of self- and physician-administered cancer treatment on work productivity and health care utilization.


Cancer subtypes with self- and physician-administered treatment options were selected. Patients with female breast, or lung or bronchus cancer diagnosed in 2004–2013 were identified in the Truven Health Analytics Commercial Claims and Encounters and Health and Productivity Management databases. Using multivariate regression models, work productivity and healthcare utilization were compared for patients receiving self- versus physician-administered treatment in the 12 months after initial diagnosis. Work productivity outcomes included the number of sick days and short-term disability claims.


One month of self- versus physician-administered treatment significantly reduced cancer-related outpatient services, doctor visits, and infusions in the 12 months after initial diagnosis for both cancers of interest. In addition, breast and lung or bronchus cancer patients who received self-administered treatment were less likely to have short-term disability claims, and breast cancer patients with non-metastatic disease who received self-administered treatment had significantly fewer sick days.


Self-administered cancer treatment was associated with fewer cancer-related outpatient services and reduced time away from work compared to physician-administered cancer treatment.

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