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Adherence to Oral Cancer Therapies

Debra Winkeljohn
CJON 2010, 14(4), 461-466 DOI: 10.1188/10.CJON.461-466

This article reviews nursing interventions to increase adherence to oral cancer therapies, such as patient and care-partner education, side-effect and medication management, and safety issues. Data sources included peer-reviewed nursing and medical literature, healthcare Web sites, and published monographs. Oncology nurses are uniquely positioned to promote patient adherence to oral cancer therapies by ensuring that patients understand the goals of treatment, promoting safe prescriptive practices, proactively managing treatment side effects, and identifying and resolving underlying barriers to adherence. When adherence is optimized, clinical outcomes are greatly improved. Primary responsibility for adherence to an oral cancer therapy regimen remains with the patient. Oncology nurses, as part of a healthcare team, can have a significant influence on patient adherence by providing thorough and timely patient and family education and by monitoring and managing side effects of treatment. Monitoring adherence to oral cancer therapies is not a recent phenomenon nor limited to oral cancer treatments but presents an increasing challenge as additional oral therapies enter the marketplace. Oncology nurses should develop and enhance strategies and materials for patient education on oral cancer therapies, improve side-effect management, assist with patient access to medications, and develop practice guidelines to ensure adherence and promote safety.

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