Exploring the impact of a decision support algorithm to improve clinicians’ chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy assessment and management practices: a two-phase, longitudinal study

Background: Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) negatively affects physical function and chemotherapy dosing, yet, clinicians infrequently document CIPN assessment and/or adhere to evidence-based CIPN management in practice. The primary aims of this two-phase, pre-posttest study were to explore the impact of a CIPN clinician decision support algorithm on clinicians’ frequency of CIPN assessment documentation and adherence to evidence-based management.

Methods: One hundred sixty-two patients receiving neurotoxic chemotherapy (e.g., taxanes, platinums, or bortezomib) answered patient-reported outcome measures on CIPN severity and interference prior to three clinic visits at breast, gastrointestinal, or multiple myeloma outpatient clinics (n = 81 usual care phase [UCP], n = 81 algorithm phase [AP]). During the AP, study staff delivered a copy of the CIPN assessment and management algorithm to clinicians (N = 53) prior to each clinic visit. Changes in clinicians’ CIPN assessment documentation (i.e., index of numbness, tingling, and/or CIPN pain documentation) and adherence to evidence-based management at the third clinic visit were compared between the AP and UCP using Pearson’s chi-squared test.

Results: Clinicians’ frequency of adherence to evidence-based CIPN management was higher in the AP (29/52 [56%]) than the UCP (20/46 [43%]), but the change was not statistically significant (p = 0.31). There were no improvements in clinicians’ CIPN assessment frequency during the AP (assessment index = 0.5440) in comparison to during the UCP (assessment index = 0.6468).

Conclusions: Implementation of a clinician-decision support algorithm did not significantly improve clinicians’ CIPN assessment documentation or adherence to evidence-based management. Further research is needed to develop theory-based implementation interventions to bolster the frequency of CIPN assessment and use of evidence-based management strategies in practice.