Abstract

Occupational therapy may significantly improve cancer survivors’ ability to participate in activities, thereby improving quality of life. Little is known, however, about the use of occupational therapy services by adults with cancer. The objective of this study was to understand what shapes patterns of occupational therapy use to help improve service delivery. We examined older (age >65 yr) adults diagnosed with breast, prostate, lung, or melanoma (skin) cancer between 2004 and 2007 (N = 27,131) using North Carolina Central Cancer Registry data linked to Medicare billing claims. Survivors who used occupational therapy within 1 yr before their cancer diagnosis were more likely to use occupational therapy after diagnosis but also experienced the highest levels of comorbidities. Survivors with Stage 4 cancers or lung cancer were less likely to use occupational therapy. These findings suggest possible disparities in utilization of occupational therapy by older adults with cancer.

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