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Specialist nurses can play a key role in supporting patients having radiotherapy
Date:6/9/2008

Cancer patients who attended a specialist nurse clinic rather than a consultant-led clinic for regular radiotherapy reviews benefited from longer, more frequent consultations and good symptom management, according to a paper in the June issue of the Journal of Clinical Nursing.

And because the clinical nurse specialist was able to carry out 83 per cent of the consultations without referring issues to the consultant, patients also avoided the need to see their doctor on a routine basis.

Researchers from the University of Dundee and the City's Ninewells Hospital also found that the patients who were undergoing treatment for head and neck cancer were more likely to be referred to members of the multi-disciplinary team. This resulted in better management of common radiotherapy side effects, like oral and nutritional problems.

When researchers compared the 23 patients attending the nurse specialist-led clinics with the 20 who had attended consultant-led clinics in the previous six months, they found that the patients reported few significant differences in quality of life. Their comments also showed that they particularly valued the relationship they had built up with the clinical nurse specialist.

Feedback from the family doctors who took part in the study was also good. They were positive about the timing and content of the information they received from the clinical nurse specialist about their patients' ongoing treatment.

"Our study showed that clinical nurse specialists can play a key role in the management of head and neck cancer patients having radiotherapy and this may take the pressure off busy consultants, with no reduction in the quality of care provided" says lead author Dr Mary Wells, a Lecturer and Clinical Research Fellow in Cancer Nursing from the University.

"As a result of our research, the majority of radiotherapy review clinics at Ninewells Hospital are now conducted by a clinical nurs
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Contact: Annette Whibley
wizard.media@virgin.net
Wiley-Blackwell
Source:Eurekalert

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