Patients, family caregivers, and patient navigators§

A partnership approach


  • Guadalupe R. Palos DrPH, LMSW, RN,

    Corresponding author
    1. Cancer Survivorship Program, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas
    • The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Cancer Survivorship Program, 1515 Holcombe Boulevard, Box 1455, Houston, TX 77030
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    • Fax: (713) 745-3475

  • Martha Hare PhD, RN

    1. Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Rockville, Maryland
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  • The authors acknowledge the following members of the Family and Caregiver Workgroup: Lynn Basilio, Bruce Black, Courtney Dini, Stacey Brooker, Cassandra Malone, Diane McElwain, Lori McMullen, Nina Miller, Carolyn Perry, and Victoria Warren-Mears.

  • The articles in this supplement are based on presentations at the “National Patient Navigator Leadership Summit”; March 23-24, 2010; Atlanta, GA.

  • §

    The opinions or views expressed in this supplement are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or recommendations of the publisher, the editors, the University of Illinois at Chicago, the American Cancer Society, or the Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care and Prevention.

  • National Patient Navigator Leadership Summit (NPNLS): Measuring the Impact and Potential of Patient Navigation, Supplement to Cancer.



Navigation services may be strengthened by establishing a partnership between the patient, family/caregiver, and the navigator. Involvement of a patient's familial or social network in the navigation process would allow patient navigators to spend more time and resources with the subset of patients who do not have support from family and friends. The Partnership Approach evolves from combining the strength of a patient's existing social support and network with the delivery of navigation services.


To develop this novel approach, the Family and Caregiver Workgroup was convened at the American Cancer Society's National Leadership Summit. Individuals were asked to serve in this group due to their interest, research, or experience in family and caregiver issues.


By the end of the Summit, the workgroup had achieved 3 major outcomes: 1) enhancement of current patient navigation services by building a partnership between the patient, family or primary caregivers, and navigators; 2) identification of a set of core functions that a family/caregiver could perform in a partnership; and 3) consensus on a set of metrics to use with caregivers and patients. Five major domains were selected to measure patient and/or caregiver outcomes: quality of life, satisfaction with care, social support, distress, and caregiver burden. Metrics appropriate for each domain were recommended.


Integration of these domains and scales in current navigation services is needed to develop future research. Evidence from such research would help determine whether the Partnership Approach contributes to improved patient and caregiver outcomes. Cancer 2011;117(15 suppl):3590–3600. © 2011 American Cancer Society.