The Impact of Specialized Oncology Nursing on Patient Supportive Care Outcomes
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Meeting the supportive care needs of cancer patients remains a challenge to cancer care systems around the world. Despite significant improvements in the organization of medical care of patients with cancer, numerous surveys of cancer populations demonstrate that significant proportions of patients fail to have their supportive care needs met. One possible solution is the introduction of a care coordinator role using oncology nursing to help ensure that patients' physical, psychological, and social support needs are addressed. Although having face validity, there is little empirical evidence on the effects of nurse-led supportive care coordinator roles on patient reported supportive care outcomes. In this article the authors present the results of a prospective longitudinal cohort study of 113 patients referred to a community-based specialist oncology nursing program. Using validated instruments they found significant improvements in patient-reported outcomes in key supportive care domains: unmet needs, quality of life, and continuity of care, as well as a shift in patterns of health resource utilization from acute care settings to the community over the course of the intervention. The results of this study are important in supporting the design and development of controlled trials to examine provider roles in the coordination of supportive cancer care.
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