Rural Cancer Survivors’ Perceptions of a Nurse-Led Telehealth Intervention to Manage Cancer-Related Distress

Veronica Bernacchi

Virginia T. LeBaron

Ivora D. Hinton

Pamela B DeGuzman
rural, cancer-related distress, cancer survivors, telehealth, survivorship
ONF 2023, 50(2), 173-184. DOI: 10.1188/23.ONF.173-184

Objectives: To understand rural survivors’ experiences of participating in a nurse-led telehealth visit designed to address cancer-related distress.

Sample & Setting: 25 rural-dwelling, post-treatment adult survivors of head and neck cancer recruited from a cancer center clinic affiliated with an academic health system serving a rural catchment area in the southeastern United States.

Methods & Variables: A descriptive multimethod approach using semistructured qualitative interviews and the Telemedicine Satisfaction and Usefulness Questionnaire.

Results: Three primary themes emerged from the qualitative interviews, related to trust, access to information, and technology barriers. Quantitative findings indicated high satisfaction with the nurse–patient relationship through telehealth and lower satisfaction with using telehealth equipment to connect to a visit.

Implications for Nursing: Despite facing technology barriers, rural cancer survivors prioritize speaking with an oncology certified nurse through telehealth. Although they may be willing to be open and vulnerable with an oncology nurse about their distress, rural survivors are less likely to accept a referral to another provider of psychosocial care. Nurses can incorporate warm handoffs to increase psychosocial referral uptake for rural survivors.

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