Research Article| Volume 36, SUPPLEMENT 1, S83-S92, September 2010

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Variation in treatment and outcome in patients with non-small cell lung cancer by region, hospital type and volume in the Netherlands



      Care processes for patients with NSCLC can vary by provider, which may lead to unwanted variation in outcomes. Therefore, in modern health care an increased focus on guideline development and implementation is seen. It is expected that more guideline adherence leads to a higher number of patients receiving optimal treatment for their cancer which could improve overall survival.


      The aim of this study was to evaluate variations in treatment patterns and outcomes of patients with NSCLC treated in different (types of) hospitals and regions in the Netherlands. Especially, variation in the percentage of patients receiving the optimal treatment for the stage of their disease, according to the Dutch national guideline of 2004, was analyzed.


      All patients with a histological confirmed primary NSCLC diagnosed in the period 2001–2006 in all Dutch hospitals (N = 97) were selected from the population-based Netherlands Cancer Registry. Hospitals were divided in groups based on their region (N = 9), annual volume of NSCLC patients, teaching status and presence of radiotherapy facilities. Stage-specific differences in optimal treatment rates between (groups of) hospitals and regions were evaluated.


      In the study period 43 544 patients were diagnosed with NSCLC. The resection rates for stage I/II NSCLC patients increased during the study period, but resection rates varied by region and were higher in teaching hospitals for thoracic surgeons (OR 1.5; 95%CI 1.2–1.9, p = 0.001) and in hospitals with a diagnostic volume of more than 50/year (OR 1.3; 95%CI 1.1–1.5, p = 0.001). Also the use of chemoradiation in stage III patients increased, though marked differences between hospitals in the use of chemoradiation for stage III patients were revealed. Differences in optimal treatment rates between hospitals led to differences in survival.


      Treatment patterns and outcome of NSCLC patients in the Netherlands varied by region and the hospital their cancer was diagnosed in. Though resection rates were higher in hospitals training thoracic surgeons, variation between individual hospitals was much more distinct. Hospital characteristics like a high diagnostic volume, teaching status or availability of radiotherapy facilities proved no guarantee for optimal treatment rates.


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