Ambulatory oncology nursing telephone services: A provincial survey

Dawn Stacey, Debra Bakker, Esther Green, Margareth Zanchetta, Michael Conlon


A survey of telephone nursing provided through ambulatory oncology programs in Ontario was conducted May to July 2006. Of 38 programs, 58% used primary nurses, 24% used a centralized triage approach, and 18% used a mixed model. About half of programs used protocols (61%), routinely documented calls (55%), and/or provided orientation to telephone nursing (45%). Few programs (29%) monitored telephone service quality. Practice strengths included: improved patient access, early symptom management, and increased continuity of care. Revealed barriers to using protocols were limited access to or awareness of protocols, management of multiple symptoms, inconsistencies with physician practices, concern that protocols replace critical thinking, inadequate time, and lack of electronic protocols. Participants acknowledged the need for electronic documentation, standardized criteria to monitor service quality, and further research to benchmark best practices.

Full Text:



Canadian Nurses Association. (2001). Position Statement: The role

of the nurse in telepractice. Ottawa: Canadian Nurses


Coleman, A. (1997). Legal implications of telephone triage. Journal

of Clinical Nursing, 613, 227-31.

College of Nurses of Ontario Practice Guidelines. (2005).

Telepractice. Ottawa: College of Nurses of Ontario, Pub. No.

Cooley, M.E., Lin, E.M., & Hunter, S.W. (1994). The ambulatory

oncology nurse’s role. Seminars in Oncology Nursing, 10(4),


Dillman, D.A. (2000). Mail and internet surveys: The tailored

design. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Kelly, D.F., Faught, W.J., & Holmes, L.A. (1999). Ovarian cancer

treatment: The benefits of patient telephone follow-up postchemotherapy.

Canadian Oncology Nursing Journal, 9(4),


Hamilton, J., & Grant, B. (2006). A welcome link for patients who are

waiting. Canadian Nurse, 102(3), 24-7.

Nursing Professional Advisory Committee. (2004). Telephone

Nursing Practice and Symptom Management Guidelines.

Toronto: Cancer Care Ontario.

Stacey, D., Noorani, H.Z., Fisher, A., Robinson, D., Joyce, J., & Pong,

R.W. (2003). Telephone triage services: Systematic review and

a survey of Canadian call centre programs. Ottawa: Canadian

Coordinating Office for Health Technology Assessment,

Technology Report No. 43

Stacey, D., Pomey, M.P., O’Connor, A.M., & Graham, I.D. (2006).

Adoption and sustainability of decision support for patients facing

health decisions: an implementation case study in nursing.

Implementation Science, 1, 1-10.

Wilson, R. & Hubert, J. (2002). Resurfacing the care in nursing by

telephone: Lessons from ambulatory oncology. Nursing Outlook,

(4), 160-64.


  • There are currently no refbacks.