Supportive Care

Oncology Nurses’ Role in Promoting Patient Self-Advocacy

Karen E. Alsbrook

Heidi S. Donovan

Susan W. Wesmiller

Teresa Hagan Thomas

patient advocacy, decision-making, communication, patient-centered care
CJON 2022, 26(3), 239-243. DOI: 10.1188/22.CJON.239-243

Teaching patients with cancer the skill of self-advocacy shifts the focus of their cancer care onto what is important to them, leading to optimized patient-centered care. As oncology nurses, providing support to patients as they self-advocate to get their needs met fosters a collaborative relationship, creating an environment in which patients feel comfortable verbalizing their needs and concerns.


  • Self-advocacy in cancer survivorship is a skill set that patients with cancer can develop to ensure that their cancer care trajectory is individualized to reflect their personal needs, priorities, and values.
  • By equipping patients with cancer to advocate for what is most important to them, oncology nurses increase the likelihood that patients will be able to overcome the numerous challenges they face, resulting in truly patient-centered care.
  • Oncology nurses can support and empower their patients to self-advocate for their needs by assisting them in determining what is most important to them, assessing their ability to advocate for themselves, building their self-advocacy strengths, providing assistance to patients who struggle to self-advocate, and encouraging ongoing self-advocacy throughout their cancer journeys.
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