What do hematology residents know about caring for older adults with cancer? A national survey of Canadian hematology residents' knowledge and interests

Published:August 29, 2022DOI:



      As the Canadian population ages, older adults comprise an increasing proportion of those diagnosed and treated for hematologic malignancies. A geriatric oncology curriculum has been recognized as a top priority in the care of older patients with cancer. It is not clear, however, whether hematology trainees receive training in geriatric oncology. We sought to understand residents' views and needs for a geriatric oncology curriculum during hematology residency in Canada.

      Materials and Methods

      We conducted a cross-sectional needs assessment of hematology trainees enrolled in a Canadian residency or advanced fellowship training program within hematology. The survey, which was piloted with three non-hematology residents to ensure user-friendliness, used a combination of Likert scale, multiple-choice, and open-ended questions. The survey comprised three sections: (1) demographic data, (2) current state of geriatric oncology training (amount, content) and (3) attitudes towards learning about geriatric oncology and preferred curriculum components and identified needs. The survey was administered by the study team and distributed electronically to program directors in June 2020. The program directors were asked to forward the survey to trainees registered within their Division of Hematology. Data were analyzed descriptively.


      Twenty-nine hematology residents participated (41.4% estimated response rate). Most respondents had not received geriatric oncology teaching (58.6%, n = 17) and have never been taught about geriatric oncology assessment tools (72.4%, n = 21) during hematology residency. Most respondents felt that their program should deliver a geriatric oncology curriculum (96.6%, n = 28). Respondents were most interested in learning about use of geriatric assessment tools for pre-treatment chemotherapy decision-making (86.2%, n = 25), prediction of chemotherapy toxicity (82.8%, n = 24), and to facilitate conversations regarding treatment initiation, continuation, or termination (79.3%, n = 23).


      Our study highlights the paucity of geriatric oncology training in hematology residency training programs. Our results highlight both the need and interest for a future dedicated geriatric oncology curriculum integrated into hematology training and provide guidance about which topics are most valued by trainees.


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