Experience of oncology nurses with cancer survivors during transition from acute oncology treatment to primary care

Guang Sun, Manon Lemonde, Dominique Tremblay


Background: Cancer care for Canadian cancer survivors remains fragmented. Little is known about the experience of Canadian oncology nurses providing cancer care for cancer survivors, as they transition from acute treatment to primary care. 

Objectives: This study aimed to (1) explore the experience of oncology nurses dealing with fragmented cancer care for cancer survivors in transition to survivorship; (2) identify oncology nurses’ perspectives about what promotes or inhibits their delivery of quality cancer care; and (3) obtain their suggestions to improve cancer care.

Design: This study used a phenomenological design to explore the experience of oncology nurses in caring for cancer survivors during transition to survivorship and examine how the nurse participants describe their experience. Semi-structured interviews were used to collect data and an interpretative phenomenological analysis approach was used to develop themes from the data.

Results: Three oncology nurses participated in this study. The following five themes emerged: (1) Under personal transition: nursing assessment, symptoms management, patient education, resources offered, refusing label of cancer survivors, promoting adjustment to a new normal life, promoting return to work, and recognizing meaning of survivorship; (2) Under cancer survivor’s care transition: promoting self-care management,  communication, and maximal recovery of body functions; (3) Under nurse’s positive experience promoting delivery of quality cancer care: caring for cancer survivors, experience and knowledge, and advocate for cancer survivors; (4) Under barriers that negatively affected delivery of cancer care: low socioeconomic status (especially low income), cultures and languages barriers, and limited time providing nursing care; and (5) Suggestions to improve cancer care: establishing a new position – primary nurse, increasing the number of healthcare professionals, and improving knowledge, skills, and experience.

Conclusion: Oncology nurses’ knowledge and experience provide a good foundation for quality cancer care and contribute to the health and wellbeing of cancer survivors.

Keywords: oncology nurses, cancer care, treatment transition

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