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Nurses as Patient Advocates in Oncology Care

Heli Vaartio-Rajalin
Helena Leino-Kilpi
CJON 2011, 15(5), 526-532 DOI: 10.1188/11.CJON.526-532

This article will explore oncology nurses' patient advocacy activities and compare those activities with patient advocacy activities defined in an earlier study by the authors. Data were collected from 42 English-language peer-reviewed articles published from 2000-2010. Search terms used included cancer care and advocacy and oncology nursing and advocacy. According to the findings of the reviewed articles, oncology nurses promote the interests of their patients by analyzing patients' psychosocial and physical distress and care plans, particularly at the beginning of the illness trajectory. Oncology nurses also are instructed in the literature to educate patients about cancer management prior to the first treatment and during cancer management to promote informed consent, but not to analyze patients' information or self-determination preferences. Oncology nurses do, however, advocate for their patients by presenting and raising awareness of patients' needs and preferences in regard to the healthcare system. To some degree, this advocacy can be seen as responding to patients' care and self-determination preferences. Oncology nurses' patient advocacy activities are similar to advocacy activities defined in the context of procedural pain care but are more focused on the beginning of the illness trajectory. However, care and self-determination needs, information needs, and advocacy needs of patients with cancer vary during the illness trajectory. Those needs should be analyzed and responded to systematically.


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