If you’re a cancer survivor who’s been happy with your care, you probably have a nurse to thank for your state of mind.
A new report finds nurses can play critical roles in easing the fear, anxiety and distress newly diagnosed lung cancer patients face. What’s more, nurses may do more to help patients bridge the gap between the shock of diagnosis and a positive mental state that can enhance treatment and boost the odds of recovery.
The Michigan State University paper, published in the Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing, details several ways nurses play key roles in patient care, alleviating concerns and leading to a better quality of life for patients.
"People facing life-threatening diagnoses often feel alone, and newly diagnosed lung cancer patients with early stage disease can have concerns about an uncertain future, the potential for treatment failure, the cancer spreading and the possibility of death," said Rebecca H. Lehto, assistant professor in the MSU College of Nursing. "Nurses who are comfortable with listening for and discussing existentially related concerns may be in a better position to promote the patient's psychological adaptation."
Lehto said her research shows some health care providers are solely focused on treatment and disease management, but need to be resources to help patients resolve the normal but often distressing psychological responses to a cancer diagnosis.
Among the strategies she recommends: Nurses can provide patient education materials, offer support in “managing life affairs," explore life stories, discuss personal relationships and spiritual resources, and even help patients locate resources to make funeral arrangements, update wills and other legal issues.