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The Value of a Breast Care Nurse in Supporting Rural and Remote Cancer Patients in Queensland

Eley, Robert M. PhD, CBiol; Rogers-Clark, Cath PhD, RN; Murray, Kay BA(Hons), MSPD

Cancer Nursing:
doi: 10.1097/01.NCC.0000339246.60700.cf
Articles
Abstract

The role of the breast care nurse (BCN) in the Queensland's Supporting Rural Women With Breast Cancer Project was evaluated by mixed methodology. Through questionnaire and interview, patients provided views about the nurse's role under the categories of awareness, access, coordination, information, and psychosocial, emotional, and practical support. Of the 51 participants, 37 resided in rural and remote areas. Eighteen lived between 100 and 500 miles from specialized breast care services. The BCN met patients at their regular hospital visits and was available by telephone at any time. There was overwhelming agreement among the participants that the timing of contact, ease of accessibility, information provided, and support offered were extremely valuable in making their treatment and recovery easier. Most participants would recommend hospitals with a BCN to their friends. Members of the multidisciplinary care team provided views on awareness of the BCN, influence on care management, communication, and patient outcomes. They recognized the benefits of the BCN to patients and to coordination and liaison of the team. The findings concur with unpublished Australian reports that demonstrate the success of BCNs. The BCN model of care could be used to support other medical conditions in rural and remote Australia.

In Brief

The role of the breast care nurse (BCN) in the Queensland's Supporting Rural Women With Breast Cancer Project was evaluated by mixed methodology. Through questionnaire and interview, patients provided views about the nurse's role under the categories of awareness, access, coordination, information, and psychosocial, emotional, and practical support. Of the 51 participants, 37 resided in rural and remote areas. Eighteen lived between 100 and 500 miles from specialized breast care services. The BCN met patients at their regular hospital visits and was available by telephone at any time. There was overwhelming agreement among the participants that the timing of contact, ease of accessibility, information provided, and support offered were extremely valuable in making their treatment and recovery easier. Most participants would recommend hospitals with a BCN to their friends. Members of the multidisciplinary care team provided views on awareness of the BCN, influence on care management, communication, and patient outcomes. They recognized the benefits of the BCN to patients and to coordination and liaison of the team. The findings concur with unpublished Australian reports that demonstrate the success of BCNs. The BCN model of care could be used to support other medical conditions in rural and remote Australia.

Author Information

Authors' Affiliations: Centre for Rural and Remote Area Health, University of Southern Queensland (Drs Eley and Rogers-Clark); Department of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Southern Queensland (Dr Rogers-Clark); and Cancer Screening Services Unit, Population Health Branch, Queensland Health, Queensland, Australia (Ms Murray).

The project discussed in this article was funded by the Department of Health and Ageing, Government of Australia.

Corresponding author: Robert M. Eley, PhD, CBiol, Centre for Rural and Remote Area Health, University of Southern Queensland, West Street, Toowoomba, Queensland 4350, Australia (eleyr@usq.edu.au).

Accepted for publication May 30, 2008.

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.