Extra Care Brings Impressive Results

Guest Blog by: Bridget Economou, RN, OCN

nurse on phoneReflecting back on my time attending the 41st ONS (Oncology Nursing Society) Congress in San Antonio, Texas, I was particularly struck by the data in a poster presentation from Kentucky regarding oral adherence. Their conclusions about how a care team can positively impact patient adherence served as great validation for the work we do for oncology care.

Patients need to be “touched” in some way at a minimum of every two weeks, especially at the start of treatment. There are many reasons why patients may not be adherent to their oral oncolytics, such as disease type, medication type, education by provider, and also financial impact. It’s well-documented that hematologic patients are much less adherent than solid tumor patients, in fact by over 30%. These patients feel overall so much worse on a day to day basis. This article proves that adding simple steps – such as, education face to face by a nurse or nurse practitioner at the time the medication is ordered, a phone call two weeks into treatment, and again at four weeks – can and does make a difference. Keeping things simple and uniform with each call was achieved by using the Morisky Adherence scale.

According to this ONS poster presentation, by week two with the 162 patients that were being followed, 82% of patients were adherent and by week four the care team’s support brought that number up to 86%! Only 17% of patients required any medical intervention.

Every manufacturers’ pipeline is currently full of new, potential oral oncolytics, which continues to bring a lot of hope and excitement to the oncology field. In the future, patients may be able to return to work sooner and there is no doubt that orals are more convenient. With no IV access required, there are fewer trips to the hospital and less risk of clotting and infections. Not to mention dignity with control, at a time when these patients feel complete loss of control. I say ‘bravo’ to those institutions implementing these simple steps with follow through! Nothing is difficult, it just takes time.


Perry W, Cassady S, Mitchell K. Adherence to oral cancer therapies in the adult oncology/hematology patient. Oral presentation at: 2016 Oncology Nursing Society Annual Congress; April 28-May 1, 2016; San Antonio, TX.



What do you think?

I’d love to hear your opinion in the comments section below.

Leave a Reply