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Research into technology top priority for cancer nurses

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Oncology nurses have identified the use of e-health and technology to manage cancer symptoms at home as an area that should be the focus of future research.

In contrast to nurses, cancer patients said that how and when people are referred to palliative care should be prioritised for research, found the investigation funded by the UK Oncology Nursing Society.

“People living with cancer provide a valuable contribution in informing research agendas for oncology nursing”

Emma Ream

In the first study of its kind, researchers from Surrey University surveyed cancer patients and nurses to help identify priorities for future research into oncology nursing and how it should be delivered.

They used a structured survey technique, known as the Delphi method, which involved gaining the in-depth views of 50 oncology nurses and 18 patients.

Patients identified palliative and end-of-life care as top areas for future research, with particular focus on care models in the community and access to specialist palliative care within oncology services.

The findings, published in the journal Oncology Nursing Forum, potentially reflect the need improve services in this area, which has also been highlighted by other recent reports and initiatives, noted the researchers.

Patients also classified cognitive changes associated with cancer treatment as a priority for future research, as such changes were not only deemed distressing for them but their families as well.

Unlike patients, the study found oncology nurses placed importance on the use of e-health and technology to manage cancer symptoms at home as an area of significance for future research.

The identification of this priority area shows that nurses are responsive to service changes in the NHS and are increasingly using technology in the delivery of care, suggested the researchers.

“Cancer nurses are acutely aware of the factors which affect and influence care”

Richard Henry

Despite such differences, oncology nurses and patients were in agreement in a number of areas on what should be on future research agendas.

For example, nurses and patients agreed that factors affecting the early presentation of cancer symptoms should be a key area of future research, in keeping with evidence that early diagnosis of was vital in improving survival rates.

In addition, both groups identified the need for future research on the availability of psychosocial support services across the cancer pathway and the management of anxiety and uncertainty following cancer treatment.

Study author and registered nurse Professor Emma Ream said: “People living with cancer provide a valuable contribution in informing research agendas for oncology nursing and should have an input in future priority setting.

University of Surrey

Research into technology top priority for cancer nurses

Emma Ream

“Our study demonstrates the importance of seeking the opinions of cancer patients, as what they consider important may not mirror what the profession considers a priority,” she said.

“Too often the voice of cancer patients is unheard, but if services are to improve we should listen to the very people they are affecting,” said Professor Ream.

Richard Henry, president of UK Oncology Nursing Society, added: “Cancer nurses are at the forefront of care delivery and are acutely aware of those factors which affect and influence care.

He said the study findings neatly combined the “knowledge and understanding” of nurses, while “acknowledging and embracing the patient perspective”.

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