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Evaluating the Feasibility of a Nurse-Driven Telephone Triage Intervention for Patients With Cancer in the Ambulatory Setting

triage, symptom management, nurse- driven intervention, active treatment, communication
ONF 2020, 47(2), E44-E54. DOI: 10.1188/20.ONF.E44-E54

Objectives: To explore the feasibility of a nurse-driven telephone triage intervention to improve the symptom experience of patients with cancer receiving treatment in the ambulatory setting.

Sample & Setting: 90 patients in three ambulatory centers (breast, head and neck, and sarcoma) receiving active treatment at a National Cancer Institute–designated comprehensive cancer center.

Methods & Variables: Patients received 4–18 triage calls from a nurse during a period of as many as six months dependent on their diagnosis and treatment. Feasibility was defined as the completion of 70% of triage calls. Symptom experience was measured using the MD Anderson Symptom Inventory.

Results: The overall call completion rate was 78%. Interference (p = 0.002) and severity (p < 0.001) scores were significantly different among patients in the three centers and gradually decreased over time.

Implications for Nursing: Outcomes suggest that a telephone triage intervention is feasible to support patients receiving treatment. Future research can evaluate whether proactive triage affects symptom intensity during the course of the treatment trajectory.

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