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Patients With Cancer: Experiences of Medication Management

Stoner, Marilyn RN, PhD, CHPN; Hand, Mikel W. EdD, MSN, RN, OCN, NE-BC; Foley, Robin MSN, FNP, AOCN

Journal of Hospice & Palliative Nursing: March-April 2010 - Volume 12 - Issue 2 - p 99-104
doi: 10.1097/NJH.0b013e3181ced701

The ability of patients to self-manage a complex medication regimen is a common concern for clinicians, particularly for patients who are elderly and coping with symptoms of late-stage cancer. Inquiry is needed to understand the experience of medication management in patients who have cancer and to explore how elderly patients with cancer respond to changes in their medication regimen and barriers they face in this process. Descriptive phenomenology was used in the pilot study. Four primary themes emerged from the analysis of participant interviews: surrender, lack of system for comprehensively managing medications, problems with medication labeling, and limited use of available resources for medication management. Participants described surrendering decisions related to medication management to their provider. The systems for medication management described by participants included attempting to memorize when medications need to be taken, using a bowl to determine when medications need to be taken, and depending on the physician tracking as to what they should be taking. Problems with labeling were consistently reported including small print and the purpose of medication not being listed. Participants also reported not consulting available resources such as a pharmacist.

Author Affiliations:Marilyn Stoner, RN, PhD, CHPN, is Associate Professor of Nursing, California State University, San Bernardino.

Mikel W. Hand, EdD, MSN, RN, OCN, NE-BC, is Assistant Professor of Nursing, MacMurray College, Jacksonville, IL.

Robin Foley, MSN, FNP, AOCN, is Nurse Practitioner, Desert Oncology Group, Palm Springs, CA.

This study was funded by a grant from the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association and Mathey Mazey, PhD, RN, Nurse Competence in Aging, Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing.

Address correspondence to Marilyn Stoner, RN, PhD, CHPN, Sherrie Ct, Beaumont, CA 92223-1543 (

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

© 2010 The Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association