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Assessing the Impact of Satellite Symposia on Community Oncologists

The importance of satellite symposia as a venue for the presentation of new data and dissemination of new standards for patient care cannot be overstated. However, while it is clear that satellite symposia offer great benefit to the physicians who attend these meetings, the benefit for those who are unable to attend is unclear. Unfortunately, the physicians who could derive most benefit from the content of a satellite symposia—busy community oncologists—are the ones who are least likely to be in attendance, often due to budget and time restrictions that prevent travel to major society meetings. One solution is to create enduring activities from satellite symposia that are available online to be accessed in a time and place that is most convenient for the learner. But are these enduring activities truly effective for the community oncologist?

Recently, prIME Oncology completed a meta-analysis of 13 enduring activities associated with satellite symposia in the United States to determine the reach of these activities among US-based community oncologists and the knowledge and practice changes gained from participation. Results from this meta-analysis were presented.

The Results

Data from the meta-analysis showed that 40% of learners who engaged with enduring materials self-identified as community oncologists, while the remainder included academic oncologists and nonclinical participants. Participation in the enduring activities was associated with major improvements in knowledge and competence across multiple domains, with the largest gains seen in selecting optimal treatments in patient case scenarios, awareness of clinical trial data, and assessing response to therapy. For example, participants improved their ability to appropriately treat a patient in a case vignette from 57% at baseline to 71% following the activity. Likewise, knowledge regarding immunotherapy as a treatment for cancer improved from 48% at baseline to 66% after participating in an immunotherapy-focused enduring activity.

Improvement in participant competence was seen across activities and tumor types. In an activity focused on gastrointestinal cancers, there was a 79% increase in learner knowledge and competence in assessing patient response to treatment, while an activity focused on hematologic malignancies resulted in a 66% improvement in the learners’ ability to apply biomarker testing results to clinical practice, select treatments, and manage adverse events.

Following participation in enduring activities related to satellite symposia, 71% of community oncologists indicated an intent to change practice. Unfortunately, many barriers remain that may prevent the translation of knowledge to practice. The largest barrier to changing practice among community oncologists was cost of therapy (27%), with access to clinical trials as a secondary barrier (23%). Lack of training, conflicting evidence, patient adherence, and patient knowledge were also identified as barriers that must be addressed before new data can be incorporated into clinical practice.

Implications for Future Education

The data demonstrate that enduring activities have a major impact on the clinical practice of community oncologists. A total of 3127 community oncologists participating in these 13 enduring activities, translating to a potential benefit for 154,215 patients with cancer. Participation was associated with large increases in knowledge and competence across a variety of subjects, and the majority of participants indicated an intent to change practice. Identifying barriers that prevent change and designing future activities to address these barriers is a major unmet need and provides a direction for future educational activities in the community setting.

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