Gaining a better understanding of the support function of oncology nurse navigators from their own perspective and that of people living with cancer: Part 1

Johanne Hébert, Lise Fillion


Individuals living with cancer have a wide range of needs throughout the disease trajectory. To better meet them, the Quebec Cancer Control Program (PQLC) implemented the oncology nurse navigator role. While this practitioner has already been integrated into the majority of oncology teams, the role still lacks precision when it comes to its functions within care teams. The support function that deals indiscriminately with “the full spectrum of care and services” consolidated under the larger constructs of adaptation and rehabilitation provided to the individual with cancer and their loved ones requires professional skills and organizational resources, which would improve with clarifying.

The goal of this study is to better understand the oncology nurse navigator (ONN) support function, first from the perspective of individuals living with cancer and, second, from the perspective of ONNs themselves. The first objective, detailed in this first part of two, is to explore, from the perspective of people living with cancer, the nature of their needs and support provided by the ONN along the disease trajectory. In all, five individuals living with cancer and provided with an ONN were recruited. The participants expressed support needs at all levels regarding the ONN particularly in the emotional (56%) and informational areas. Moreover results suggest that symptom management (physical area) and all-around coordination (care interventions, appointments, exams, practitioners) in the practical area are paramount throughout the care trajectory.

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