Developing a community program on cancer pain and fatigue

M Grant, M Golant, L Rivera, G Dean, H Benjamin
Cancer Practice 2000, 8 (4): 187-94

PURPOSE: The overall purpose of this project was to establish a community-based educational model on pain and fatigue management for individuals with cancer. The specific aims were: 1) to develop an appropriate educational program; 2) to pilot test this program in a community setting that supported a self-care approach; and 3) to evaluate the program process and outcomes.

DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM: The I Feel Better program was implemented through a two-session educational workshop taught by masters-prepared oncology nurses and was held at four Southern California sites of The Wellness Community. The focus of the sessions was to provide participants with general information about each symptom, assessment and management of those symptoms, and strategies for effectively communicating with their healthcare providers. Sessions of 2.5-hour duration were held on Saturday mornings and required preregistration.

RESULTS: The participants were primarily female and White, with an average age of 58 years. Participants reported considerable pain and fatigue. They also lacked accurate information about pain management. Program evaluation revealed that the content and format were well received by the participants. They rated the program as extremely useful and reported positive outcomes after the first session.

CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: This pilot educational intervention program has strong implications for multidisciplinary educational approaches for patients with cancer. Limitations resulted from the setting selected and the possibility that participants were already active in their fight against cancer. Generalization to other community settings may not be as successful. Programs could be cosponsored by several collaborating institutions to share resources. Referral to community programs by physicians, nurses, and social workers can occur as needed when identified during patient interventions. The voluntary participation of health professionals in community education programs could provide a valuable service for patients and a rewarding experience for educators.

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