An exploration of oncology nurses experience of providing non-curative care to patients with advanced cancer




Streeter, Lisa

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Although there is a growing movement to conceptualize palliative care as an integral part of comprehensive cancer care, access to coordinated palliative care services is often limited to end-of-life when efforts to control the disease have failed. Little was known about how this phenomenon is experienced in oncology nursing practice. A phenomenological approach was used to explore oncology nurses experience providing non-curative care in one of six outpatient cancer settings within an urban health region in Western Canada. Emerging understandings suggest that oncology nurses support patients‟ hopes for prolonged survival with non-curative treatment while revisiting treatment decisions in the context of witnessed suffering. In the context of mounting symptoms, oncology nurses strive to construct a „safety net‟ of community supports to rescue patients from crisis. Inherent tensions within this experience are shaped by how cancer care and palliative care are understood, how treatment decisions are framed within their care team, and organizational constraints in the provision of services in the community. These understandings invite further discussion about strategies to support oncology nursing practice in the provision of non-curative care.



palliative care, nursing, Canada