Nurses should incorporate palliative information early in oncology treatment

A nurse-led palliative care intervention for persons newly diagnosed with metastatic cancer improved emotional and mental quality of life (QoL) for those patients.

The intervention was carried out by an advanced registered nurse practitioner (ARNP) who had been integrated into the oncology team at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. The initiative included discussions of the benefits of hospice, discussions of living wills and advanced directives, and a QOL assessment.

Statistically significant improvements from baseline in emotional and mental QoL assessments were noted among the 26 patients who participated in the intervention; such improvements were not seen in a control group. Although Mayo Clinic oncologist Gerardo Colon-Otero, MD, and coinvestigators had planned to enroll 100 people in the study, the project was stopped when other data showing the benefit of similar nurse-driven palliative interventions were published.

The researchers concluded in Journal of Palliative Medicine that an ARNP-directed intervention that explains the benefits of hospice and addresses advanced directives early in the course of treatment is well-received by patients with metastatic cancer as well as their relatives and measurably improves the patient's emotional and mental QoL.  

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