ASTRO: Medical Physicist-Patient Consult May Ease Stress of RT

Benefits may include decreased anxiety, increased technical and overall satisfaction

MONDAY, Oct. 31, 2022 (HealthDay News) — A patient-facing role for medical physicists may improve the experience of patients receiving radiation therapy as part of oncology care, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO), held from Oct. 23 to 26 in San Antonio.

Todd F. Atwood, Ph.D., from the University of California in San Diego, and colleagues assessed the impact of physicist-patient consults on patient anxiety and patient satisfaction. The analysis included 66 patients randomly assigned to the Physics Direct Patient Care (PDPC) arm or the control arm of a randomized prospective phase 3 clinical trial.

The researchers found that patients in the PDPC arm had a significant decrease in anxiety versus patients in the control arm at the first treatment timepoint. At the simulation, first treatment, and last treatment timepoints, there were significant increases observed in technical satisfaction for patients in the PDPC arm versus the control arm. Overall satisfaction was higher in the PDPC arm versus the control arm at the first treatment and last treatment timepoints.

“Patients increasingly want to be more involved with their care. Typically, they start by searching online, but what they’re finding is either nonspecific or just too complex. They have unanswered questions, which often lead to confusion, stress, and anxiety,” Atwood said in a statement. “This study is a wake-up call for medical physicists that there are new ways we can add value to patient care. It illustrates how care teams can partner more effectively with patients as they make their treatment decisions and navigate the radiation therapy process.”

Several authors disclosed financial ties to Varian Medical Systems.

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