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Implementation and Use of a Patient Symptom Diary During Chemotherapy: A Mixed-Methods Evaluation of the Nurse Perspective

Annemarie Coolbrandt
Erika Bruyninckx
Chris Verslype
Ester Steffens
Ellen Vanhove
Hans Wildiers
Koen Milisen
ONF 2017, 44(5), E213-E222 DOI: 10.1188/17.ONF.E213-E222

Purpose/Objectives: To gain a deeper understanding of nurses’ experience working with a patient diary for tracking and treating side effects during chemotherapy.

Design: A mixed-methods design was used to learn about oncology nurses’ use and perceptions of a symptom diary.

Setting: Six oncology wards and two outpatient clinics at the University Hospitals Leuven, Belgium.

Sample: 79 nurses completed a survey, and 14 nurses participated in focus group discussions.

Methods: First, a survey sampled nurses’ use and perceptions of the diary. Next, focus group discussions were held with the aim of arriving at a deeper understanding of the survey results.

Main Research Variables: Use and perceptions of a symptom diary.

Findings: Most nurses reported performing diary-related behavior to some extent. The survey and focus groups indicated that many nurses strongly believed in the value of the diary, but some were still hesitant or had concerns about patients’ perceptions of the diary. The focus group results showed that nurses’ use of the diary in daily practice was influenced by their personal beliefs about the value of the diary, the team’s, and those of their patients.

Conclusions: Although a positive trend was noted, nurses’ use of the symptom diary was suboptimal six months after its implementation.

Implications for Nursing: This study highlights important issues that need to be addressed to advance the successful implementation of the symptom diary.

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