At a time when cancer patients want to focus energies on beating their disease or enjoying their days with family, they often find it tough to get past the fatigue and pain associated with their condition.
But the medical world knows of ways to ease that discomfort, and nursing researchers want to make sure those methods reach patients at City of Hope and beyond.
A National Cancer Institute-supported research project is bringing two nationally known medical oncologists and a nursing expert in fatigue to City of Hope this month to begin training staff members on oncology-related pain and fatigue. The training is a key part of the extensive, five-year project called “Reducing Barriers to Pain and Fatigue Management,” led by principal investigator Betty R. Ferrell, R.N., Ph.D., and supported through an R01 grant. Marianna Koczywas, M.D., is the lead co-investigator from the Division of Medical Oncology and Therapeutics Research.
“We want the lessons from training to be engrained in our practices here, so everyone gets better care,” said Ferrell, research scientist in City of Hope’s Department of Nursing Research & Education.
The 2002 National Institutes of Health State of the Science Conference on Symptom Management in Cancer pointed out a glaring problem: While new discoveries in the causes and treatment of cancer were offering hope against the disease, symptom management for those who have cancer has not kept pace.
This new pain-and-fatigue-management project aims to help. The project began about six months ago, when Ferrell and her colleagues started assessing how City of Hope health professionals currently manage pain and fatigue in patients. Optimum symptom management includes a full spectrum of caregivers: physicians, nurses, nutrition services, physical therapists, chaplains, psychologists and more.
Now, three visiting experts will begin training staff members on successful ways to manage pain and fatigue, following a model called “Passport to Comfort,” which is based on National Comprehensive Cancer Network guidelines.
Charles F. von Gunten, M.D., Ph.D., medical director of the Center for Palliative Studies at the San Diego Hospice (a UC San Diego affiliate) and Thomas Smith, M.D., professor and chair of hematology/oncology and palliative care at the Massey Cancer Center of Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center, will conduct the training. University of Nebraska’s Barbara Piper, D.N.Sc., R.N., an eminent nurse researcher and expert in fatigue, is a co-investigator on the project and also will participate in the education.
Tami Borneman, R.N., M.S.N., C.N.S., and Virginia Sun, R.N., N.P., are the research specialists on the project, which will enroll patients in the intervention phase beginning the first week of June. Medical oncology patients in the breast, prostate, lung and colorectal cancer programs will be eligible for the study, and patients will receive four educational sessions: two on pain and two on fatigue. The researchers will measure and monitor patients” quality of life.
“We will assess how well the interventions work with patients, as well as how satisfied health professionals are with them,” Ferrell explained.
In the last phase, the researchers will look for successful program components and move them to the clinic so that they become a part of standard care. They also will publish their findings to share their success stories with other hospitals and medical centers.
To learn more about pain management at City of Hope, please visit the Pain/Palliative Care Resource Center at http://prc.coh.org.