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What Does It Mean to Be an Oncology Nurse? Reexamining the Life Cycle Concepts

Marlene Z. Cohen
Betty R. Ferrell
Mark Vrabel
Constance Visovsky
Brandi Schaefer
ONF 2010, 37(5), 561-570 DOI: 10.1188/10.ONF.561-570

Purpose/Objectives: To summarize the current research pertaining to the concepts initially examined by the Oncology Nursing Society Life Cycle of the Oncology Nurse Task Force and related projects completed in 1994.

Data Sources: Published articles on the 21 concepts from the Oncology Nursing Society Life Cycle of the Oncology Nurse Task Force work. Research published in English from 1995-2009 was obtained from PubMed, CINAHL®, PsycINFO, ISI Science, and EBSCO Health Source®: Nursing/Academic Edition databases.

Data Synthesis: Most of the concepts identified from the Oncology Nursing Society Life Cycle of the Oncology Nurse Task Force have been examined in the literature. Relationships and witnessing suffering were common concepts among studies of the meaning of oncology nursing. Nurses provide holistic care, and not surprisingly, holistic interventions have been found useful to support nurses. Interventions included storytelling, clinical support of nurses, workshops to find balance in lives, and dream work. Additional support comes from mentoring.

Conclusions: The research identified was primarily descriptive, with very few interventions reported. Findings have been consistent over time in diverse countries.

Implications for Nursing: This review indicates that although the healthcare system has changed significantly in 15 years, nurses' experiences of providing care to patients with cancer have remained consistent. The need for interventions to support nurses remains.


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