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Open Access Article

Adherence to Oral Chemotherapy in Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia: An Evolutionary Concept Analysis

Wendy Landier

oral chemotherapy, acute lymphoblastic leukemia, child
ONF 2011, 38(3), 343-352. DOI: 10.1188/11.ONF.343-352

Purpose/Objectives: To clarify the concept of adherence to daily oral chemotherapy in children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), to examine its implications for clinical practice, and to provide a foundation for further research and knowledge development.

Data Sources: Published literature identified through the MEDLINE®, CINAHL®, PsycINFO, and ERIC databases.

Data Synthesis: Identified attributes of adherence to oral chemotherapy in childhood ALL included motivation, persistence, collaboration, mindfulness, cognitive capacity, flexibility, active participation, and identification of key participants in the process. Identified antecedents included a diagnosis of leukemia, the perceived value of adherence, and patient, family, and healthcare system-related factors. Identified consequences included the potential for maintaining optimal drug levels and improving disease outcome, as well as increased patient and caregiver esteem through active participation in the process. Adherence in the context of childhood ALL is defined as the active self-care behavior of taking (or having the responsibility for administering) daily oral chemotherapy, in collaboration with and according to the instructions of the healthcare provider over a defined, prolonged treatment period.

Conclusions: Adherence to oral chemotherapy in childhood ALL is a complex, multidimensional behavior that involves not only a willingness to follow the prescribed regimen over a prolonged period, but also the cognitive capacity and psychomotor skills to carry out the process.

Implications for Nursing: Nurses should recognize the importance of clear communication of medication instructions, reinforcement of adherence-related behaviors, and assistance with common issues such as pill-swallowing skills and reminder systems in caring for children with ALL.

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