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Open Access Article

The Invisibility of Nursing: Implications From an Analysis of National Cancer Institute—Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center Web Sites

Deborah A. Boyle
ONF 2010, 37(2), E75-E83 DOI: 10.1188/10.ONF.E75-E83

Purpose/Objectives: To identify the degree of oncology nursing representation on public Web sites of the National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated comprehensive cancer centers (CCCs) in the United States.

Design: Qualitative, descriptive.

Setting: Web sites.

Sample: 40 CCCs.

Methods: Using the Google® search engine, a query was undertaken using the term National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center. The search resulted in linkage to the site www.cancer.gov, which provided Web site addresses for 40 CCCs. The CCCs were classified into five categories based on the degree of nursing representation evident throughout each Web site.

Main Research Variables: Presence and quality of four themes in the Web site specific to oncology nursing activity at the CCC: (a) recognition of nursing on the CCC home page; (b) citations and/or descriptions of nursing personnel, programs, or recognitions within the Web site; (c) existence of a dedicated nursing Web page; and (d) acknowledgment of the chief nursing officer at the CCC.

Findings: Only 2 of the 40 CCCs revealed broad representation of oncology nursing throughout their Web site. Nearly 63% of CCC Web sites had no or minimal content about nursing.

Conclusions: Public Web sites offer important information to patients with cancer, their families, and the general public. The absence of nursing in lay-oriented media devalues oncology nurses' highly specialized knowledge and skill.

Implications for Nursing: Considerable opportunity exists to enhance the public's awareness of the scope and complexity of contemporary oncology nursing within the 40 CCCs in the United States. Omission of positive messages about nurses' work in hospital-related media misleads the public that nurses are not integral members of the multidisciplinary team. With the continued absence of both descriptive and results-oriented work quantification, oncology nurses will remain unable to communicate their worth to the public, nor take credit for their care.

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