The study looked at nearly 37,000 cancer patients from across the country enrolled in clinical trials over 26 years, and found that the disparity all but vanished when rural and urban patients were enrolled in the same trials. "If rural and urban patients with cancer receiving similar care also have similar outcomes, then a reasonable inference is that the best means by which to improve outcomes for rural patients with cancer may be to improve their access to quality care," the researchers wrote.
The researchers made five recommendations for physician leaders and health-care organizations to help close the mortality gap between rural and urban cancer patients:
- Improve access to affordable health insurance
- Expand access to screening and prevention tools
- Boost access to oncology specialists
- Increase transportation resources for rural patients who travel long distances to access quality care
- Adopt innovation care networks to give rural patients access to new treatments and clinical trials