Providing Coordinated Cancer Care—A Qualitative Study of Norwegian Cancer Coordinators’ Experiences of Their Role

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Abstract

Background:

There is a growing need for strategies to improve coordinated, tailored services in cancer care to meet the comprehensive needs of cancer patients. In Norway, cancer coordinators (CCs) have been established to improve coordination and patient-centeredness of services. Little is known about how CCs engage to provide patients with the needed services and support throughout the treatment.

Objective:

The aim of this study was to explore how Norwegian CCs experience their role and how they enact it in order to enhance coordinated cancer care.

Methods:

The study encompasses a qualitative, hermeneutic approach, conducting semistructured in-depth interviews of 26 Norwegian CCs. The data were analyzed using thematic analysis and discussed in the light of the salutogenic theory.

Results:

Cancer coordinators take a holistic approach to patient care, including both patient- and system-level activities. “Providing coordinated cancer care” emerged as an overarching topic for their role. This topic was elaborated by 3 main themes: (1) finding their place and creating their function, (2) meeting the needs of cancer patients and helping them cope, (3) promoting well-functioning cancer care systems.

Conclusions:

Cancer coordinators evolved diversely, in adaption to the local context and patients’ needs. The functions’ diversity challenged the implementation and external role recognition. Cancer coordinators seemed to apply a salutogenic, resource-focused orientation in order to support a positive development at both the patient and the system levels.

Implications for Practice:

The findings reinforce the call for holistic, patient-centered services in cancer care. Cancer coordinators need appropriate support from the local management to establish the role and local collaborations.

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