Objectives: Cancer treatments were variably disrupted during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. UK guidelines recommend pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy (PERT) to all people with unresectable pancreatic cancer. The aim was to investigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on PERT prescribing to people with unresectable pancreatic cancer and to investigate the national and regional rates from January 2015 to January 2023. Data Sources: With the approval of NHS England, we conducted this study using 24 million electronic health records of people within the OpenSAFELY-TPP research platform. There were 22,860 people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the study cohort. We visualized the trends over time and modeled the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic with the interrupted time-series analysis. Conclusion: In contrast to many other treatments, prescribing of PERT was not affected during the pandemic. Overall, since 2015, the rates increased steadily over time by 1% every year. The national rates ranged from 41% in 2015 to 48% in early 2023. There was substantial regional variation, with the highest rates of 50% to 60% in West Midlands. Implications for Nursing Practice: In pancreatic cancer, if PERT is prescribed, it is usually initiated in hospitals by clinical nurse specialists and continued after discharge by primary care practitioners. At just under 50% in early 2023, the rates were still below the recommended 100% standard. More research is needed to understand barriers to prescribing of PERT and geographic variation to improve quality of care. Prior work relied on manual audits. With OpenSAFELY, we developed an automated audit that allows for regular updates (https://doi.org/10.53764/rpt.a0b1b51c7a).
Seminars in Oncology Nursing