Do Patients with Breast Cancer Participating in Clinical Trials Receive Better Nursing Care?

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Oncology Nursing Forum





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PURPOSE/OBJECTIVES: To examine differences in nursing care received by patients with breast cancer enrolled in clinical trials and those not enrolled in clinical trials.

DESIGN: Retrospective review of clinic charts.

SETTING: Oncology outpatient department of a tertiary-care hospital. SAMPLE: 90 women with early stage breast cancer. The mean age of the women was 53 years. More than half of the women (51 of 90) were treated in a clinical trial.

METHODS: Retrospective chart review of all the nurse-patient clinic encounters for a six-month period from date of cancer diagnosis. The content of each encounter was coded using a modified version of the Nursing Action Classification System.

MAIN RESEARCH VARIABLES: Nursing interventions (i.e., assessment, medical scheduling, psychosocial scheduling, reassurance, and teaching) and phone calls.

FINDINGS: Women enrolled in clinical trials had more phone interactions with nursing staff (p = 0.003) and received teaching (p < 0.001) and reassurance (p = 0.005) from nursing staff more often than women not enrolled in clinical trials. Controlling for age and stage of disease, teaching (p < 0.001), and reassurance (p = 0.10) were the primary differences in nursing care between the patients enrolled in clinical trials and those not enrolled.

CONCLUSION: Differences in nursing care received exist between patients with breast cancer enrolled in clinical trials and those not enrolled.

IMPLICATIONS FOR NURSING PRACTICE: Both teaching and reassurance are important components of caring for patients with cancer and are associated with treatment compliance. If the results of this study are confirmed, measures must be employed to ensure that all patients receive optimal care.


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Dr. Charles Weijer is currently a faculty member at The University of Western Ontario.

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