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Keywords:

  • breast cancer;
  • consumer perceptions;
  • empirical research report;
  • follow-up care;
  • nursing;
  • qualitative research;
  • staff perceptions

Abstract

Title. Consumers’ and professionals’ perceptions of a breast cancer review clinic

Aim.  This paper is a report of a study to explore the healthcare needs of women attending consultant-led breast cancer review clinics from their own perspectives, how these healthcare needs were being met, and healthcare professionals’ perceptions of ways in which the service could be delivered more efficiently and effectively.

Background.  The value of routine medical follow-up both in terms of detection of recurrence and patient satisfaction has been questioned. However traditional, where routine follow-up continues, there are rising numbers of women with breast cancer attending review clinics.

Methods.  A qualitative approach was adopted, using non-participant observation during seven outpatient oncology/surgical breast review sessions. Interviews were carried out in 2005 with a convenience sample of 21 women clinic attenders, two outpatient nurses, three breast care nurses, four oncologists, three surgeons and an outpatient sister.

Findings.  Although women saw themselves as having returned to a precancer state, they still had fears of recurrence and a need for reassurance. This need was generally met through the review clinic but many psychosocial needs were unaddressed. However, nurses seemed to be under-used as a potential source of support. Medical and nursing staff perceived that women needed to be reviewed but acknowledged that appropriately prepared nurses could deliver a more holistic and efficient service.

Conclusion.  The number of women with breast cancer requiring ongoing review is likely to increase, but the current review service is not meeting all their needs. A nurse-led follow-up service could be an attractive alternative to routine medical follow-up.