Valuing Cancer Nursing

RECaN Systematic Review Underway

What is the value of cancer nursing? And how does this differ across Europe? In her plenary address to the International Conference on Cancer Nursing in Hong Kong, the Unit’s Mary Wells outlined the challenges and solutions for enhanced recognition of the nursing contribution to cancer care in Europe. She explained to delegates how the RECaN (Recognising European Cancer Nursing) project will be crucial in moving things forward. Mary says, “We know that cancer nurses make a difference to patient experiences, safety, quality of life and satisfaction with care, as well as being cost-effective. However, they provide vital physical and psychological support to patients whilst coping with increasingly heavy workloads and service development pressures in a context of limited resources and often limited recognition. Many European countries lack educational and professional frameworks for cancer nursing.  We need to address the large variation across Europe and ensure that policy makers understand what specialist cancer nurses can do when their contribution is recognised and supported.”

RECaN will unfold in three stages. The first is a systematic review to identify best evidence around the impact of cancer nursing on patient experiences and outcomes. In stage two, researchers will contrast four countries in Europe where nursing is at different stages of development to understand the influence of different contexts. At stage three, the European Oncology Nursing Society will work with people involved in oncology policy across Europe to find ways of supporting and promoting specialist cancer nursing, wherever nurses and patients are based.

Mary, Pauline Campbell and Claire Torrens are finalising preparations for the systematic review, which has been designed and will be conducted in collaboration with a large European consortium of academics, cancer nurses, and representatives from patient groups and charities. Ten key publication databases will be searched for relevant studies using randomised controlled trial and controlled before and after methods from 2000 to 2016. 

Pauline explains, “We’ve used the PICO (Population, Intervention, Comparison, Outcomes) formula to set out our review plan. This means we will include papers where the population is nurses working with people of any age group who have cancer. The studied intervention will be any delivered by a qualified nurse across the trajectory of the illness from prevention to end of life, excluding interventions which are only medication or surgery. The comparison to the nurse delivered intervention will be no intervention, standard or usual care, or intervention delivered by another healthcare professional, and the outcomes will be around quality of life indicators and cost effectiveness. This plan removes as much bias as possible from the study, which means we can be confident that our findings will offer the best available evidence for the value and impact of cancer nursing on patient experiences and outcomes.”

The International Conference on Cancer Nursing was held from 4th-7th September 2016 in Hong Kong. The RECaN systematic review protocol will be registered with PROSPERO. Mary Wells contributed to a recent feature on RECaN in the Nursing Standard.


NMAHP RU ebulletin


24 November 2016

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