Support for Patients and Family Caregivers in Lung Cancer: Educational Components of an Interdisciplinary Palliative Care Intervention

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Consistent with the recommendations of the Institute of Medicine Report on quality cancer care, attention to symptom management and quality of life concerns of patients with lung cancer should be addressed throughout the disease trajectory. As part of an National Cancer Institute-funded Program Project grant, this article reports on the patient and family caregiver education component of a nurse-lead, tailored, palliative care intervention for patients with early-stage (I-III, n = 130) and late-stage (IV, n = 142) lung cancer. Patients and family caregivers received 4 separate educational sessions organized around the Quality of Life model domains (physical, psychological, social, and spiritual well-being). Each patient and caregiver was presented at a weekly interdisciplinary case conference, which also informed the educational sessions. Based on needs and team suggestions, an individualized palliative care plan was created and a tailored educational intervention was designed based on topics chosen by each participant. The most common topics chosen by patients in each domain were fatigue, worry and fear, social support/isolation, and hope. Family caregivers most commonly chose fatigue, worry and fear, communication, and purpose and meaning in life. The time spent in each teaching session ranged from 31 to 44 minutes for patients and 25 to 35 minutes for family caregivers. There is a vital need for interdisciplinary palliative care interventions for patients across all stages and across the disease trajectory. Nurses are vital to integrating palliative care into routine care. Providing a tailored educational intervention is an important aspect of palliative care for patients and family caregivers. This article focuses on the process of the tailored educational intervention.

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