To help the growing number of cancer survivors deal with the challenges of cancer survivorship, survivorship care plans (SCPs) were recommended by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in 2006. The SCP is a formal document that contains both a tailored treatment summary and a follow-up care plan. Since the IOM recommendation 10 years ago, the implementation in daily clinical practice is minimal. Several studies have investigated the effects of SCPs on patient-reported outcomes and oncology and primary care providers (PCPs), but the quantity and quality of these studies are limited.
The first four randomized trials comparing SCP delivery with usual care failed to show a positive effect on satisfaction with information provision, satisfaction with care, distress or quality of life. SCPs did improve the amount of information provided and communication of PCPs with medical specialists and patients. A recent small trial that changed the focus from SCP as primarily an information delivery intervention to a behavioral intervention did observe positive effects on self-reported health, lower social role limitations and a trend towards greater self-efficacy. Gaps in knowledge about SCPs include uncertainty about content and length of the SCP; whether it should be delivered online or on paper; the timing and frequency of delivery; which health care provide should deliver SCP care. Finally, cost-effectiveness of SCP interventions has received limited attention.
Currently, there is not enough evidence to warrant large-scale implementation of SCPs, or to abandon SCPs altogether. Emphasis on the SCP process and survivor engagement, supporting self-management may be an important way forward in SCP delivery. Whether this is beneficial and cost-effective on the long term and among different groups of cancer survivors needs further investigation.