A recent study found that oncology nurses can play a key role in promoting the safety of oral anti-cancer medication, while freeing up time for oncologists, too.
Nurse navigators can play a crucial role in ensuring the safety and quality of oral anti-cancer medication administration, but to-date, their actual role has been relatively unclear in this realm. As a result, the use of oncologists’ time may not be optimized.
To address this problem, a group of researchers at Gustave Roussy, in France, implemented and assessed an intervention that combined the use of an online app and nurse navigators for patients on oral anti-cancer drugs. Over a 24-month period, nurse navigators spoke with patients and their caregivers through the app or over the phone in between oncology visits.
The results of the intervention were presented at the 2019 ASCO Annual Meeting.
“After initial prescription, nurse navigators have a consultation with patients, and it’s a time to evaluate the need of supportive care. The nurse navigator provides information about treatments and side effects,” explained Marie Ferrua, study author, in an interview with Oncology Nursing News.
Overall, 236 patients were involved in the study, and they pooled together a total of 2395 total interventions — 1880 were regular follow-ups and 515 were patient requests. More than half (52%; n = 1250) of the interventions resulted in at least 1 additional action by the nurse navigator. Only one-quarter (25%; n = 318) needed an oncologist’s expertise, and this was usually because of the presence of symptoms or toxicities involving the treatment.
“We conducted an interview with oncologists on how they felt about the intervention,” Ferrua said. “They very strongly agree that it can reduce some of their tasks. Also, the intervention was very useful for patients, too.”
When it came to the 75% of interventions that nurse navigators handled, the following actions were taken:
Nurse navigators interviewed also said that they enjoyed the intervention, and that it gave them more confidence that patients were getting the care they needed, as well as having all of their questions answered.
“They enjoyed it because they can ensure follow-up with their patients.” Ferrua said. “They were very happy to do this.”
Moving forward, Ferrua said that she hopes these findings can pave the way for the long-term implementation of a program like this.
“This is a good intervention for patients, oncologists, and nurse navigators,” Ferrua said. “We hope [to be able to] offer this to future patients.”
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