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A Patient Orientation Program at a Comprehensive Cancer Center

Amy M. B. Deshler
Kelliann C. Fee-Schroeder
Jill L. Dowdy
Teresa A. Mettler
Paul Novotny
Xinghua Zhao
Marlene H. Frost
ONF 2006, 33(3), 569-578 DOI: 10.1188/06.ONF.569-578

Purpose/Objectives: To determine which method of delivery of a cancer orientation program contributed to higher levels of satisfaction and lower levels of anxiety for newly diagnosed patients with cancer and each patient's support person.

Design: A randomized study of patients with cancer and caregivers into one of three delivery methods for an orientation program or a control arm.

Setting: A National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center in the midwestern United States.

Sample: Newly registered patients with cancer diagnoses and their identified support people.

Methods: The intervention consisted of an orientation video and booklet delivered by three separate methods: class, drop-in sessions, or information mailed to homes. Participants completed questionnaires before the intervention and three weeks after the intervention.

Main Research Variables: State and trait anxiety, satisfaction, understanding of the organization, awareness and use of resources, and stress and coping.

Findings: The most successful accrual arms were the mailed intervention and control groups. The mailed intervention group compared to the control group reported higher levels of satisfaction with the cancer center, satisfaction with resources, understanding of the cancer center's structure, and satisfaction with healthcare professionals' communication with them. Fewer intervention group participants reported a lack of awareness of specific resources, and a larger percentage of the intervention group used available resources. Fewer benefits were noted with caregivers.

Conclusions: The mailed intervention was successful in improving several patient outcomes. It was shown to be especially helpful to those with high trait anxiety.

Implications for Nursing: A mailed orientation program can be a useful approach for increasing satisfaction with services.

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