Treatment Decisions for Advanced Non-Squamous Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer: Patient and Physician Perspectives on Maintenance Therapy

Suzanne McMullen, Lisa M. Hess, Edward S. Kim, Benjamin Levy, Mohamed Mohamed, David Waterhouse, Antoinette Wozniak, Sarah Goring, Kerstin Müller, Catherine Muehlenbein, Himani Aggarwal, Yajun Zhu, Ana B. Oton, Jennifer L. Ersek, Katherine B. Winfree

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Introduction: Advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is a severe disease with burdensome symptoms and traditionally poor outcomes. The treatment of advance disease is based on chemotherapy, with the recent addition of immunotherapy. Patients who respond to initial treatment can opt to receive maintenance therapy (MT). It is important to understand why patients with advanced NSCLC choose to accept or refuse therapy, and how physician recommendations play into this decision-making process. This study characterized patient and physician decision-making regarding treatment for patients with advanced non-squamous NSCLC in the USA using the example of MT. Methods and Materials: This study employed multiple approaches: patient interviews, a patient survey, and a physician survey. Qualitative interviews were conducted among patients who had been offered MT to identify factors influencing treatment decision-making. The patient survey explored the decision-making process and quantified challenges and motivators for receiving MT. The physician survey included a discrete choice experiment to understand the relationship between physician treatment recommendations and patient characteristics. Results: Interviewed patients (n = 10) were motivated to receive MT in the hope of extending their lives and being proactive against their cancer, and they anticipated reduced adverse effects compared with first-line therapy. Surveyed patients (n = 77) described several deterrents to receiving therapy; the most prominent was severity of adverse effects, which was an influencing factor for 34% of patients. The major motivator for receiving therapy was the potential to extend life, which influenced 97% of patients. A total of 100 oncologists participated in the physician survey. Patients’ lack of treatment motivation/inconvenience, disease progression, presence of severe renal co-morbidities, and older age decreased the likelihood of physicians recommending the use of MT. Conclusion: This study identified challenges and motivators influencing advanced NSCLC patients’ decisions to accept or refuse therapy, as well as patient and disease characteristics associated with physician’s treatment recommendations for MT.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223-233
Number of pages11
Issue number2
StatePublished - 12 Apr 2019
Externally publishedYes


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