Results from a recent survey completed by radiation oncologists, suggest formal recommendations and guidance would improve the peer review process, a common practice in medical sciences that supports a multidisciplinary team approach in healthcare.
The study, titled “Practice patterns for peer review in radiation oncology” was published in the Practical Radiation Oncology (PRO), assessed the outcome of a radiation oncology-specific peer review survey led by ASTRO back in 2013.
The main objective of the survey was to assess the frequency and the substance of peer review activities, understand which peer review functions actually evaluated medical decisions and technical knowledge, analyze the factors and demographics that can influence peer review and define ASTRO’s physician members’ interest in further assistance on peer review.
The survey was given to 5,674 of ASTRO’s physicians worldwide and had a total of 572 participants. Of these, 93% were radiation oncologists and 7% were residents, trainees or other. The majority (78%) was from the United States, 5% were from Canada and 17% were from several different countries.
The results shows that 83% of the participants were involved in peer review, 75% were satisfied with their program and 6% thought their working environment was not encouraging of peer review.
Furthermore, 83% of the participants said they completed peer review during the first week of radiotherapy treatment, and 65% after treatment initiation. Concerning the possible changes in patient case management resultant of peer review, 87% said they would made changes to fractionation, 82% would make dosage adjustments, 70% would change contouring and 49% would alter the treatment direction.
“Peer review is an important quality assurance process that facilitates physicians in constructively evaluating each other’s work, and our survey focused on medical decision making and technical expertise,” lead author of the study David J. Hoopes, MD, radiation oncologist at the Joint Radiation Oncology Center at Travis Air Force Base in Travis, California, said in a news release. “This study confirms that peer review is a common practice, however, there is wide variation in how it is performed. Additional research and evaluation of peer review are necessary to provide formal recommendations and guidance, including tools and workflow, to improve peer review processes, which will ultimately improve the efficacy and safety of radiation therapy for our patients.”