What makes patient navigation most effective: Defining useful tasks and networks

Christine Gunn, Tracy A. Battaglia, Victoria A. Parker, Jack A. Clark, Electra D. Paskett, Elizabeth Calhoun, Frederick R. Snyder, Emily Bergling, Karen M. Freund

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Given the momentum in adopting patient navigation into cancer care, there is a need to understand the contribution of specific navigator activities to improved clinical outcomes. A mixed- methods study combined direct observations of patient navigators within the Patient Navigation Research Program and outcome data from the trial. We correlated the frequency of navigator tasks with the outcome of rate of diagnostic resolution within 365 days among patients who received the intervention relative to controls. A focused content analysis examined those tasks with the strongest correlations between navigator tasks and patient outcomes. Navigating directly with specific patients (r = 0.679), working with clinical providers to facilitate patient care (r = 0.643), and performing tasks not directly related to their diagnostic evaluation for patients were positively associated with more timely diagnosis (r = 0.714). Using medical records for non- navigation tasks had a negative association (r = -0.643). Content analysis revealed service provision directed at specific patients improved care while systems- focused activities did not.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)663-676
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of health care for the poor and underserved
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2017


  • Cancer prevention and control
  • Health care disparities
  • Neoplasms
  • Patient navigation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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