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Factors Affecting the Evolution of Oncology Nursing Care

JoAnn Mick
CJON 2008, 12(2), 307-313 DOI: 10.1188/08.CJON.307-313

Oncology nursing has evolved in response to population growth and changing demographics, changing regulatory requirements, decreasing lengths of inpatient hospital stays, and ongoing advances in cancer treatment, information, and biotechnology. Changes in societal perceptions of cancer and increased access to information have enabled patients to seek out knowledgeable and skilled oncology nurses. Nurses also play an ever-increasing role in rehabilitation as patients live longer with the effects of cancer and treatment. Significant outcomes achieved through nursing research include increased access to care and patient education; improved patient satisfaction, cost-effectiveness of health care, and treatment adherence; fewer hospital admissions; decreased lengths of stay; lower readmission rates; fewer emergency room visits; and lower healthcare costs. Oncology nurse researchers also have studied the economic burden of cancer treatment, limited employment options, and survivorship issues. The progress in professional oncology nursing parallels the progress in surgical, radiologic, biologic, medical, and genetic approaches to cancer treatment. The role and practice of the oncology nurse will continue to evolve in the coming decades as population demographics and healthcare systems change and new scientific and technologic discoveries are integrated into cancer care.

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