Purpose/Objectives: To determine whether improved monitoring through close follow-up with a nurse practitioner (NP) could enhance treatment compliance and decrease frequency of hospitalizations.
Design: Retrospective chart review.
Setting: An academic National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center.
Sample: 151 patients aged 45-65 years diagnosed with stage III or IV oropharyngeal cancer.
Methods: Patients were nonrandomized to one of two groups: a prechemotherapy clinic group and a weekly NP-led clinic group. After examination of descriptive statistics, multiple linear and logistic regressions were used to compare groups across patient outcomes.
Main Research Variables: Hospitalization, chemotherapy dose deviations, and chemotherapy treatment completion.
Findings: The average number of visits during traditional treatment was three and, after initiation of the NP-led clinic, the number was six. The hospitalization rate was 28% in the traditional clinic group compared to 12% in the NP-led group. The rate of chemotherapy dose deviations was 48% in the traditional clinic group compared to 6% in the NP-led clinic group. Forty-six percent of patients in the traditional clinic group received the full seven scheduled doses of chemotherapy compared to 90% of patients seen in the NP-led clinic group.
Conclusions: A weekly NP-led symptom management clinic reduces rates of hospitalization and chemotherapy dose deviations and increases chemotherapy completion in patients receiving intensive chemoradiotherapy for oropharyngeal cancer.
Implications for Nursing: Patients receiving chemoradiotherapy benefit from close monitoring for toxicities by NPs to successfully complete their treatment and avoid hospitalization.
Knowledge Translation: Early interventions to manage toxicities in patients with head and neck cancer can improve outcomes. NPs are in a key position to manage these toxicities and, when symptoms are controlled, costs are reduced.