Impact of a novel nurse-led prechemotherapy education intervention (ChemoEd) on patient distress, symptom burden, and treatment-related information and support needs: results from a randomised, controlled trial

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Background: High levels of distress and need for self-care information by patients commencing chemotherapy suggest that current prechemotherapy education is suboptimal. We conducted a randomised, controlled trial of a prechemotherapy education intervention (ChemoEd) to assess impact on patient distress, treatment-related concerns, and the prevalence and severity of and bother caused by six chemotherapy side-effects.

Patients and methods: One hundred and ninety-two breast, gastrointestinal, and haematologic cancer patients were recruited before the trial closing prematurely (original target 352). ChemoEd patients received a DVD, question-prompt list, self-care information, an education consultation ≥24 h before first treatment (intervention 1), telephone follow-up 48 h after first treatment (intervention 2), and a face-to-face review immediately before second treatment (intervention 3). Patient outcomes were measured at baseline (T1: pre-education) and immediately preceding treatment cycles 1 (T2) and 3 (T3).

Results: ChemoEd did not significantly reduce patient distress. However, a significant decrease in sensory/psychological (P = 0.027) and procedural (P = 0.03) concerns, as well as prevalence and severity of and bother due to vomiting (all P = 0.001), were observed at T3. In addition, subgroup analysis of patients with elevated distress at T1 indicated a significant decrease (P = 0.035) at T2 but not at T3 (P = 0.055) in ChemoEd patients.

Conclusions: ChemoEd holds promise to improve patient treatment-related concerns and some physical/psychological outcomes; however, further research is required on more diverse patient populations to ensure generalisability.

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