The following article features coverage from ONS Bridge 2020. Click here to read more of Oncology Nurse Advisor‘s conference coverage.

An initiative focused on providing education to caregivers of inpatients scheduled for discharge following autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) facilitated a smoother and earlier discharge process, according to a poster presentation on the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) Bridge, a virtual conference.

A trend toward a more rapid shift in post-autologous HSCT care from an inpatient to an outpatient setting has been observed in recent years. Notably, this change has not been associated with detriments in patient clinical outcomes, and related costs have decreased. Nevertheless, it places an increased burden on the patient caregiver, and can have a negative impact on their mental and physical health.

This pilot educational program, developed at Dana-Farber/Brigham & Women’s Cancer Institute in Boston, Massachusetts, was designed for caregivers of patients who have undergone autologous HSCT and are scheduled for hospital discharge.

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Some specific aims of the program are to facilitate an early patient discharge time, alleviate the anxiety of both patients and caregivers at the time of hospital discharge, and increase their satisfaction with the discharge process.

A key element of the program is that caregiver education on post-autologous HSCT patient care is scheduled for 1 to 3 days prior to the anticipated date of patient discharge, rather than being conducted on the day of discharge.  

The day of discharge can be overwhelming, as a lot of information is given to the patient and caregiver, and a potential consequence of delivering caregiver education on the day of discharge is that it delays the actual discharge time, explained presenters Caitlin Guerrero, MSN, OCN, and Daria Mlynarski, BSN, OCN, from Brigham & Women’s Hospital.

Components of this caregiver-focused educational initiative include tools developed by nurses, such as an autologous HSCT teaching guide; a discharge checklist; and a poster to engage patients.

Preliminary findings showed that the discharge time for program participants was an average of 2 hours earlier compared with those not participating in the program.

Ongoing evaluation of the impact of this pilot program on the experience of patients and caregivers includes telephone surveys conducted 2 days following hospital discharge.


Guerrero C, Mlynarski D. Autologous stem cell transplant discharge pilot. Presented at: ONS Bridge; September 8-17, 2020. Accessed September 14, 2020.