Impact of clinical pathways on treatment patterns and outcomes for patients with non-small-cell lung cancer: real-world evidence from a community oncology practice

Journal of Comparative Effectiveness Research, 2022


The evolving treatment landscape for non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and complexities of regulations and reimbursement present challenges to community oncologists. Clinical pathways are tools to optimize care, but information on their value in the real world is limited. This retrospective study assessed treatment patterns and clinical outcomes in patients with stage I-III NSCLC pre- and post-pathways implementation at Tennessee Oncology, a large, community-based oncology practice in the USA.

Methods & Materials

Chart data were abstracted for adults diagnosed with stage I-III NSCLC who received systemic treatment. Patients were divided into pre-pathways (treatment initiation 2014-2015) and post-pathways (treatment initiation 2016-2018) cohorts. Patient characteristics, treatment patterns and outcomes were summarized descriptively. Kaplan-Meier curves were used to assess time-dependent outcomes, and log-rank test was used to compare the cohorts.


291 patients were included (stage I-II: 38 pre-pathways, 55 post-pathways; stage III: 105 pre-pathways, 93 post-pathways). Duration on first-line (1L) therapy was similar for stage I-II patients pre- and post-pathways (median 1.9 months vs 2.1 months; p = 0.75), but increased for stage III patients post-pathways (2.1 months vs 1.4 months pre-pathways; p < 0.01). Achievement of a complete or partial response with 1L therapy was similar post-pathways among stage I-stage -IIII patients (60.0% vs 55.2% pre-pathways), but increased for stage III patients (56.0% vs 35.2% pre-pathways).


Given that improvements in rates of treatment response post-pathways occurred only for patients diagnosed with stage III NSCLC, among whom immunotherapy uptake increased post-pathways, such improvements may be attributable to evolving practices in cancer care, including advances in treatment and care delivery, rather than clinical pathways implementation. Further research is warranted to assess the impact of clinical pathways in the current treatment era, given that immunotherapy has now become the standard of care in NSCLC.

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Dickson NR, Beauchamp KD, Perry TS, Roush A, Goldschmidt D, Edwards ML, Blakely LJ