Survivorship Rehabilitation Program Provides Education to Improve Transition Following Active Treatment

April 28, 2021

In particular, patients reported improved knowledge in survivorship/surveillance and brain fog following the 6-week program.

Patients with breast cancer may benefit a rehabilitation program that provides guidance as they transition from active treatment to survivorship, according to a poster presentation at the 46th Annual ONS Congress.

“Patients often expressed feeling anxious and overwhelmed as they transition to survivorship. In addition, they noted decrease in support from their health care team. Therefore, our team created the breast cancer rehabilitation program to provide guidance and support to patients as they transition from active treatment to survivorship,” Laura Kaminski BSN, RN, OCN, a nurse navigator at INOVA Life with Cancer, said in a recording presented at the meeting.

The Breast Cancer Rehabilitation Program – led by a specialist team comprised of an oncology nurse navigator, physical therapist, oncology dietician, fitness instructor, and oncology clinical therapist – is a 6-week multidisciplinary series, with each week addressing a different survivorship topic.

“A multidisciplinary team is particularly valuable for addressing the variety of challenges that survivorship patients face,” Kaminski wrote in her poster.

Each specialist led sessions that focused on the following:

  • survivorship and surveillance with a nurse navigator
  • physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech-language pathology’s roles in survivorship with a physical therapist
  • brain fog with an oncology clinical therapist
  • coping with survivorship’s emotional impact with an oncology clinical therapist
  • exercise guidelines for survivors with a fitness instructor
  • nutrition in survivorship with an oncology dietician.

To evaluate the effectiveness of the program, survivors completed a survey before and after the program. Before the program, patients, on average, rated their knowledge of survivorship topics as 3.2 on a 5-point scale. Post-survey responses showed that there was an increase in knowledge of all survivorship topics, with an average knowledge score of 4.7. Knowledge of survivorship/surveillance and brain fog were the topics of greatest improvement.

Kaminski noted that this program could offer similar education across various cancer types to contribute to improved survivorship outcomes.

INOVA Life with Cancer launched the program on January 14, 2020, and now offers it quarterly.

“Our organization plans to continue offering the breast cancer rehab program and has already made adjustments to the program based on patient feedback. For example, and 2021. A session was added to address sexual health and intimacy and survivorship,” Kaminski said.

Reference:

Kaminski L. Breast Cancer Rehabilitation Program: Healing Mind, Body and Soul. Presented at: 46th Annual ONS Congress; April 20, 2021; virtual.