The prescription of oral oncology therapies has increased over time thanks to the clinical benefits; however, the inadequate use of these drugs can lead to ineffectiveness and early discontinuation of therapy. Oral therapy also places a self-management burden on the patient and requires a competent understanding of treatment. A study evaluated the implementation of a nurse-led patient education program to influence the handling of oral agents. The researchers presented the study at the ASCO Annual Meeting

A total of 178 patients from 28 office-based oncology practices in Germany participated in the cluster, randomized, controlled study and were observed for three months. The mean patient age was 70 years, and 54% were female. 

Both the intervention and control groups received the usual oncology counseling. The intervention program included educational information on the clinical picture, treatment options, side effects, and proper handling of medication to improve self-management, therapy-related knowledge, and medication adherence. Oncology nurses involved in the program were specifically trained in motivational communication and use of oral agents. 

Patients in the education program showed a higher level of therapy-related knowledge and a clearer understanding of behavior in critical situations compared with those in the control group. In addition, self-efficacy increased in the intervention group after the first counseling session, while the control group showed a slight decrease. The difference remained stable during the length of the study.

Patients in the control cohort had more frequent side effects, such as skin rash, and they were more likely to interrupt therapy without informing their healthcare providers (25%) compared with the intervention group (14%). 

The researchers concluded, “Patients benefit from a standardized patient education program provided by specially trained oncology nurses through improved therapy-related knowledge, adherence, and prevention of side effects.”