Impact of the Guatemalan Nursing Program on Treatment Abandonment in Children with Cancer

Tuesday, 23 July 2013: 1:50 PM

Sara W. Day, PhD, RN
School of Nursing, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL
Leslie McKeon, RN, PhD
University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, TN
Rita M. Carty, DNSc, RN, FAAN
College of Nursing and Health Science, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA

Learning Objective 1: The learner will be able to identify the challenges to providing quality pediatric oncology nursing care in developing countries.

Learning Objective 2: The learner will be able to identidy interventions to improve the quality of nursing care in developing countries and how these interventions impact clinical outcomes.

Purpose: In 2007, a comprehensive nursing program was implemented at the National Pediatric Oncology Unit in Guatemala to improve the quality of nursing care. Twenty-four new nursing positions were created, decreasing nurse patient ratio from 1:7 to 1:5, and a full-time nurse educator was hired to provide pediatric oncology education. In addition, processes were established to improve 20 nursing quality standards.  The purpose of this study was to assess the program’s impact on treatment abandonment in children with cancer. Treatment abandonment is a critical problem in developing countries and a leading cause of death for children with cancer.

Methods: Pre-program (January 2004-December 2006) cumulative incidence (CIN) of treatment abandonment was compared to post-program CIN (January 2007 to October 2008) at the intervention site (Guatemala) and to a control site in which no new nursing interventions were implemented during the study period. The sample included 1,936 patients diagnosed with cancer during study period.

Results: Pre-program CIN of treatment abandonment for the intervention site (10.2 ± 1.2) was significantly higher (p = .045) than post-program CIN (6.5 ± 1.3).  Post- program CIN of treatment abandonment for the intervention site (6.5 ± 1.3) was significantly lower (p = 0.0003) than post-program CIN for the control site (14.7 ± 2.7).

Conclusion: Significant improvement in the CIN of treatment abandonment within the intervention site and as compared to the control site was found.  Several factors may have contributed to the study’s findings. Well educated nurses are better able to provide parents with insight regarding the need to continue therapy, and the improved nurse-patient ratio allowed more time for nurses to provide individualized parent education. In developing countries, abandonment is seen as the primary domain of psychologists and social workers. A combined effort of nursing and psychosocial intervention may be the best option for preventing abandonment.