A survey of 127 nurses conducted at the Oncology Nursing Society Annual Leadership Weekend earlier this year found that:
- Oncology nurses are experiencing patient non-adherence to oral therapies;
- Oncology nurses want and need specific clinical practice assistance to help improve adherence; and
- Oncology nurses want and will attend educational programs on adherence to oral therapies.
Two-thirds of the respondents said that at least 26 percent of their patients receive oral therapies (with 41 percent indicating that 26 to 50 percent of their patients receive such therapies and 18 percent indicating the rate to be 51 to 75 percent).
The nurses also reported that the range of cancers treated with oral agents include the most common cancers: breast, colorectal, lung, thyroid, and hematological cancers, among others. And, more than half of the respondents said that at least 25 percent of their patients do not adhere properly to their regimens.
“The cost of oral chemotherapeutic agents is staggering, and when patients hear the amount of money they may be required to pay out of pocket, [some] immediately decide not to take the drug,” Amy Sidorski, CRNP, RN, MS, an adult oncology nurse practitioner at Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center with expertise on the topic, said in a news release.
The barrier ranked as most common by the nurses that prevented patient adherence to oral therapies was cost, which included reimbursement issues and high co-pays. The next most common barriers were side-effect management and cognitive difficulties. Swallowing difficulty was also reported as a barrier that affects a “fair” number of patients, according to the survey white paper, but was not as significant as the other barriers included in the survey overall.