Bringing a New Approach to Symptom Management in Ovarian Cancer


In this episode of “The Vitals,” Heidi Donovan, PhD, RN, discusses novel symptom management intervention for women with recurrent ovarian cancer.

For this episode of “The Vitals,” Oncology Nursing News® spoke with Heidi Donovan, PhD, RN, professor of nursing and medicine, and co-director of the National Center on Family Support, at the University of Pittsburgh. Donovan recently co-led a study evaluating the utility of an online symptom management tool for women with recurrent ovarian cancer.

The study, which was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, found that women who used the intervention experienced higher satisfaction with their symptom management.1

“[In my opinion] some principles of our intervention are critical and actually overdue in clinical practice for ovarian cancer and other cancers,” she noted, emphasizing the importance of systematic symptom assessment in clinical settings, and enhancing women’s confidence in their ability to manage their symptoms, as well as their confidence communicating these symptoms to their healthcare providers.

“[By systematic] I mean [asking] the same questions repeatedly, over time, in order to pick up on changes that that are affecting patients and on symptoms that are affecting their quality of life, and their ability to function on a day-to-day basis,” she said. “The second principle was really enhancing women's confidence… A lot of what we did in this intervention was try to motivate women to recognize how much [of an] effect their symptoms were [causing] and build their confidence in their ability or their knowledge of things that they could try to get better management.”


Donovan HS, Sereika SM, Wenzel LB, et al. Effects of the WRITE symptoms interventions on symptoms and quality of life among patients with recurrent ovarian cancers: an NRG Oncology/GOG Study (GOG-0259). Published online ahead of print February 7, 2022. J Clin Oncol. doi:10.1200/JCO.21.00656.

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