Referring Patients to the Right Support Group


Oncology nurses are the first line of defense when it comes to a patient's psychosocial needs, but they don't often have the time to directly attend to them. Which is where support groups can come in to help.

Treating patients with cancer is more than just providing a patient with their medication. It’s also vital to address a patient’s psychosocial needs and connect them to resources for support, which oncology nurses are leading the way on, according to Sally Werner, RN, BSN, MSHA.

Oncology nurses can provide a patient with a trained eye on what support measures that may work best for them, including support groups. Werner, the senior vice president for affiliate relations at the Cancer Support Community headquarters, had the chance to sit down with Oncology Nursing News® and discuss why oncology nurses are referring patients to support groups and how they can help patients in ways an oncology nurse might not have time for.


I think your nurses are your first line of defense when it comes to your psychosocial care, and a lot of times an oncology nurse can help break down that barrier and encourage patients to find a support group. I think that oncology nurses are in a unique position to know what's available in their own community and what resources are out there [for patients].

In today's day and age, an oncology nurse doesn't have nearly enough time at the bedside as they would like to have whether it's at the infusion center, the doctor's office, the hospital, you name it, they don't get to spend the amount of time with patients that they want to. So, they really like to have some confidence in their community resources and have some other tools in their toolkit to share with patients and family members. Most of us, me included being an oncology nurse, really take the time to know what's available and where to refer patients to.

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