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

e specialist. But greater investment is needed to develop specialist nursing roles if initiatives like this are to be replicated elsewhere in the UK."

Key findings of the study included:

  • Nurses were able to spend 16 minutes on each consultation - four times as long as the consultants - and patients had shorter waits to see them (two minutes versus nine).

  • Overall quality of life scores were similar in both groups, but patients in the consultant-led clinic group reported slightly higher emotional functioning.

  • Baseline pain scores were higher in the nurse-led group but rose less sharply than in the medical group.

  • Patients in the nurse-led group had better scores for social eating, social contact, dry mouth, sticky saliva, teeth problems and weight loss.

  • Patients in the medical group were more likely to have lost weight and less likely to have gained weight, despite receiving more nutritional supplements.

"Our study demonstrates that clinical nurse specialists in radiotherapy can effectively lead on-treatment reviews for patients using a protocol-based approach and that patients and family doctors appreciate the support, information and communication provided by nurse-led clinics" says Dr Wells.

"The findings suggest that when nurses work as part of a supportive multi-disciplinary team they can manage the majority of these routine consultations without direct input from the consultant, even in this highly symptomatic and complex group."

The study has led to direct changes in the way neck and head cancer patients are managed at Ninewells Hospital and the majority of the radiotherapy review clinics are now conducted by a clinical nurse specialist with specific training and expertise in radiotherapy care.

"The clinical nurse specialist is now able to prescribe a wider range of medication and is responsible for coordinating complex treatment regimes
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Contact: Annette Whibley
wizard.media@virgin.net
Wiley-Blackwell
Source:Eurekalert

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