ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA—Patients with lung cancer can achieve improved dyspnea and fatigue scores when provided with information and support from a nurse-led symptom management program, according to a study presented at the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) 39th Annual Congress.

Jennifer Lounsbury, RN, BSN, MN, OCN©, and colleagues at the Grand River Regional Cancer Centre (GRCC) in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, conducted the study to assess the impact of improving dyspnea scores and quality of life in patients with lung cancer. The protocol for the Dyspnea Management Clinic was guided by prior research to include assessment of breathlessness, understanding the meaning of symptoms, recognition of problems that require medical intervention, offering breathing retraining, use of relaxation technique, and goal setting.

For this study, adult patients with lung cancer were referred to the Dyspnea Management Clinic. Each patient received a 1-hour consultation plus 1 to 3 follow-up visits. Patient understanding of symptoms was measured using the Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale (ESAS), the Palliative Performance Scale (PPS), and Cancer Care Ontario (CCO) symptom management and assessment tools. Advanced nurse practitioners used these validated and reliable assessment tools to guide initial consultations and to enhance assessments for dyspnea. This allowed the oncology nurses to implement a comprehensive approach to address dyspnea symptoms in patients who had underlying lung cancer.

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A total of 43 patients participated in the study. ESAS scores for dyspnea and tiredness were significantly improved in all patients. These results were compared to a historical control group of 40 patients who received care before the inception of the clinic.

Oncology nurses are key leaders in assessing symptoms and educating patients on how to manage dyspnea. These results demonstrate that oncology nurse-led interventions are effective methods for improving symptom management in patients with lung cancer.


Lounsbury J. Nurse-led interventions for dyspnea management in individuals with lung cancer. Presented at: Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) 39th Annual Congress; May 1-4, 2014; Anaheim, CA.