In a study by Cathy D. Meade PhD, RN, from Moffitt Cancer Center, and colleagues looking at the use of lay-navigators in medically underserved patients, they found that the lay-navigators facilitated communication, helping the patients be more comfortable with talking about their health and feelings.1
Furthermore, they found that lay-navigators helped providers keep track of their patient’s status and maintain the ability to reach patients who may have been otherwise lost to follow-up.1
Limitations of lay-navigators noted in this study included learning to set boundaries and handling the emotional aspects of their roles, which the author pointed out nurses and other team members stepped in to help in these situations.1
Montague echoes that statement, “It’s emotionally challenging. Being a strategist forces you to confront at an early age, some of the hardships of life. It’s a privilege and an honor to stand with someone when they are battling this disease. It changes your perspective on life.”
“Although we don’t yet have definitive data regarding survival statistics with patients that do and don’t have a TaketheFight strategist, there is definitely known improvement in quality of life and survival amongst patients that have stronger social support systems in place. I’ve personally seen patients have more peace of mind with a support system along for their journey, as well as someone who can truly facilitate the patient’s navigation through a system that can be somewhat scary sometimes,” Page explained to Oncology Nurse Advisor. “Some patients have a built in support system (spouse, adult child, best friend, sibling) that fulfills this function, but even for patients that have a fantastic support system at home, a lay-navigator can be a huge help to them.”
Shannon Aymes is a medical writer based in Apex, North Carolina.
1. Meade CD, Wells KJ, Arevalo M, et al. Lay navigator model for impacting cancer health disparities. J Cancer Educ. 2014;29(3):449-457.
2. Take the Fight Web site. http://takethefight.org. Accessed October 26, 2015.