Christine M. Gunn M.A., Jack A. Clark Ph.D., Tracy A. Battaglia M.D., M.P.H., Karen M. Freund M.D., M.P.H., Victoria A. Parker D.B.A.
To determine how closely a published model of navigation reflects the practice of navigation in breast cancer patient navigation programs.
Observational field notes describing patient navigator activities collected from 10 purposefully sampled, foundation‐funded breast cancer navigation programs in 2008–2009.
An exploratory study evaluated a model framework for patient navigation published by Harold Freeman by using an a priori coding scheme based on model domains.
Field notes were compiled and coded. Inductive codes were added during analysis to characterize activities not included in the original model.
Programs were consistent with individual‐level principles representing tasks focused on individual patients. There was variation with respect to program‐level principles that related to program organization and structure. Program characteristics such as the use of volunteer or clinical navigators were identified as contributors to patterns of model concordance.
This research provides a framework for defining the navigator role as focused on eliminating barriers through the provision of individual‐level interventions. The diversity observed at the program level in these programs was a reflection of implementation according to target population. Further guidance may be required to assist patient navigation programs to define and tailor goals and measurement to community needs.