Brain cancer patients often face a poor prognosis preceded by a rapid functional decline and high symptom burden. The aim of this audit was to examine and evaluate calls made by patients and carers to the neuro-oncology cancer nurse coordinator (NCNC) service in Western Australia and to determine the types of interventions and patient outcomes that occurred.
Retrospective data on patient/carer initiated calls to the NCNC service was collected from 1st of July to 31st of December 2016. An excel spreadsheet was used to collect patient demographics, along with the reason for the call and the interventions that were discussed.
250 patient or carer calls were received relating to 103 patients. Results revealed the majority of patients were aged 30-59 years (n=57, 55%) and had a Glioblastoma diagnosis (n=181, 72%). Escalation of care (n=79, 32%) requiring direct contact with the specialist was commonly related to symptom management (n=32, 73%). Seven (9%) patients were directed to the emergency department for immediate assessment. Non-escalation of care calls (n=171, 68%) often involved multiple issues. These issues were categorised into five main groups: coordination of care issues (n=209, 32%); disease and treatment information / education (n= 137, 21%), appointment issues and blood results monitoring (n=97, 15%); minor symptom management (n=172, 26%); and liaison with community care providers (n=42, 6%).
Results demonstrated that NCNC input may have assisted in symptom management that decreased unplanned visits or admissions to the treating hospital. Telephone contact with a specialised nurse provided information, coordination and support to patients and carers whilst at home. Overall the audit provided insight into the scope of the NCNC role and the type of calls received.