Willingness to Travel for Cellular Therapy: The Influence of Follow-Up Care Location, Oncologist Continuity, and Race

ABSTRACT

Purpose: Patients weigh competing priorities when deciding whether to travel to a cellular therapy center for treatment. We conducted a choice-based conjoint analysis to determine the relative value they place on clinical factors, oncologist continuity, and travel time under different post-treatment follow-up arrangements. We also evaluated for differences in preferences by sociodemographic factors.

Methods: We administered a survey in which patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma selected treatment plans between pairs of hypothetical options that varied in travel time, follow-up arrangement, oncologist continuity, 2-year overall survival, and intensive care unit admission rate. We determined importance weights (which represent attributes’ value to participants) using generalized estimating equations.

Results: Three hundred and two patients (62%) responded. When all follow-up care was at the center providing treatment, plans requiring longer travel times were less attractive (v 30 minutes, importance weights [95% CI] of -0.54 [-0.80 to -0.27], -0.57 [-0.84 to -0.29], and -0.17 [-0.49 to 0.14] for 60, 90, and 120 minutes). However, the negative impact of travel on treatment plan choice was mitigated by offering shared follow-up (importance weights [95% CI] of 0.63 [0.33 to 0.93], 0.32 [0.08 to 0.57], and 0.26 [0.04 to 0.47] at 60, 90, and 120 minutes). Black participants were less likely to choose plans requiring longer travel, regardless of follow-up arrangement, as indicated by lower value importance weights for longer travel times.

Conclusion: Reducing travel burden through shared follow-up may increase patients’ willingness to travel to receive cellular therapies, but additional measures are required to facilitate equitable access.