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Keywords:

  • community;
  • cancer;
  • chemotherapy;
  • clinical nurse specialist

Cancer patients are increasingly being cared for in the community. However, the role of the community oncology nurse specialist (CONS) remains a rare appointment in the United Kingdom. There is little research evidence to substantiate the view that this is a worthwhile and effective role. This study aimed to explore the role of one CONS using a qualitative case study approach. The sample consisted of the CONS, seven patients, no relatives and five community nurses. Semi-structured interviews were used to elicit the view of these participants. In addition, documents containing details of the CONS's work to date were reviewed. A number of the CONS's role components were identified by the different respondent groups. Five themes were identified within the data collected: functions of the CONS, communication between the CONS and other health care professionals, structural and organizational factors, characteristics of the service and benefits to patients and their families. Furthermore, all respondent groups were positive about the service offered by the CONS, and felt that the role was valuable. Some negative features were identified and these were concerned with organizational aspects of the service. The findings suggest the need for further research and evaluation in this area.