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Optimizing the Benefits of Self-Monitoring Among Patients With Cancer

Mary Anne Purtzer

Carol J. Hermansen-Kobulnicky

decision making, clinical practice, qualitative nursing research, Patient education, quality of life
ONF 2016, 43(6), E218-E225. DOI: 10.1188/16.ONF.E218-E225

Purpose/Objectives: To investigate oncology professionals’ perspectives about, experience with, and envisioned feasibility of incorporating patient self-monitoring as a patient-centered practice.

Research Approach: An interpretive, descriptive study.

Setting: Four health systems and five cancer centers in three states.

Participants: 38 nurses, nurse practitioners, oncologists, physician assistants, and radiation therapists.

Methodologic Approach: Individual and focus group interviews.

Findings: Three themes were revealed: (a) the concept of self-monitoring is unarticulated and underused by healthcare providers, (b) taking a proactive approach with patients can help generate specific and accurate data for clinical decision making, and (c) self-monitoring by patients may result in challenges imposed by negativity.

Conclusions: This study uncovers the potential contribution of patient self-monitoring as a means of providing patient-generated data that informs clinical decision making, going beyond self-monitoring for self-management only. Because the term self-monitoring is not used by clinicians, adoption of an agreed-upon term is recommended as the first step toward developing and implementing a self-monitoring strategy. Findings support the need to reenvision patient education to ensure self-monitoring is clinically useful while preventing an excessive focus on the negative, which may contribute to patient anxiety.

Interpretation: The full potential for self-monitoring by patients is not entirely reached. Because nurses are charged with providing patient education, they are strategically positioned to adopt the term self-monitoring and integrate a self-monitoring strategy into patient-centered practice.

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