Innovations in the Care of Cancer Survivors and their Families

Monday, 9 November 2015: 10:40 AM

Ann Solari Twadell, PhD, FAAN
Nursing, Loyola University Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA
Gayle M. Roux, PhD, RN, NP-C, FAAN
College of Nursing and Professional Disciplines, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND, USA

Background: Today cancer is considered a “Chronic Health Condition” with over 12 million survivors. While most survivors will be treated within their local communities, there is limited literature on the costs, specific types, and efficacy of community-based interventions with cancer survivors and their families. 

Purpose: The purpose of the study was to explore economical community-based interventions tailored for cancer survivors and their families to make recommendations for future research and practice. Initially, an extensive literature synthesis was completed. Based on the results of the literature synthesis, a corresponding survey was developed which focused on care of cancer survivors and their families.

Method:  A systematic inquiry format was employed to review the literature. A comprehensive literature search was completed using a range of databases resulting in over 200 articles.  The literature search was limited to dates between 2004 and 2014. Articles with community-based interventions for survivors and their families were selected, resulting in fifteen articles. Based on the findings of the literature synthesis, items were developed for a survey.  The survey was conducted with a convenience sample of Faith Community Nurses (FCN) as these members of the profession represent nurses living within the same communities as the survivors. The FCN’s represented a wide geographical distribution over the U.S. and diverse types of faith communities. The survey examined if they were engaged with cancer survivors and if so, what were the most frequently used interventions.

Results: The literature synthesis noted five themes: 1.) Support services for clients and families are available in the community; 2.) Variance exists in types of services available, settings, cost, and levels of support for these services; 3.) There is a disparity in the integration of minorities; 4.) Exercise is a primary focus for cancer rehabilitation; and, 5.) There is a lack of spiritual and family interventions with limited integration of the role of the Faith Community Nurse in survivorship care. Listening, support, prayer, guidance on resources, support groups along with home visits and presence were the most important interventions in caring for cancer survivors noted by these FCN’s.

Conclusions: The role of Faith Community and FCN’s in caring for cancer survivors needs to be researched further as an innovative contribution to the whole person care and well-being of cancer survivors and their families. Inclusion of the FCN as a trusted member of the interprofessional oncology team holds promise to improve outcomes for survivors and decrease health care expenditures. Further research is needed on the efficacy of interventions for survivors within their community-based settings.