Saturday, September 4, 2010

Oncology Nurses, Cancer, and Palliative Care (Research, Video 1:39)

In an earlier post, I mentioned the confusion many people have regarding what palliative care is. One problem is the close association they make between palliative care and hospice care. Those with misinformation include some who work in the healthcare field.
Oncology nurses provide and supervise care for cancer patients who are chronically or critically ill. The “Oncology Nursing Forum” presents results from a study at George Mason University. Researchers examined how some oncology nurses define palliative care, their views about who should and should not receive palliative care, and their beliefs about palliative care decision-making. These nurses’ beliefs include who should be involved in making palliative care decisions and how decisions should be managed. Interviewed were twelve nurses representing different aspects of oncology nursing.
Findings indicate that most of the oncology nurses interviewed focused on symptom management and made no distinction between hospice and palliative care. Palliative care was viewed as care only for patients near the end of life. Nurses perceived their own involvement in decision-making regarding palliative care as limited and indirect. These perceptions cause concern because they could limit palliative care that is appropriate for cancer patients who may not be eligible for hospice care.
While this study involved a small group of oncology nurses, it reinforces the need for more education and clinical experience so palliative care can be used to benefit more patients. Dr. Diane Meier, Director of the Center to Advance Palliative Care, defines palliative care in this video titled “What is Palliative Care?”

Frances Shani Parker, Author

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