More than half of men who participated in an oncology clinical nurse specialist–led multidisciplinary prostate cancer clinic had reductions in distress scores, according to a small study.
The OhioHealth Cancer Services Multidisciplinary Prostate Cancer Clinic meets on the third Thursday of every month and allows participating men to get a thorough second opinion on their disease; its goal is to educate, evaluate, and guide men on available treatments.
“A diagnosis of prostate cancer can lead to a high level of stress and anxiety for men, who might struggle with selecting the appropriate treatment option: surgery, radiation, or surveillance,” explained Dale Weaver, MSN, RN, CNS, AOCNS, of OhioHealth. “At our clinic, patients can come in and meet with a radiation oncologist, a urologic surgeon, a medical oncologist, and a sexual health physician, and take that information home to decide what is the best treatment for their needs.”
Leading the clinic, Weaver is in charge of coordinating care, helping to educate patients, assessing distress levels, and providing resources.
After the launch of the clinic, Weaver and colleagues began to evaluate clinic attendees’ distress levels prior to the clinic visit and 1 week after the clinic visit using the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) Distress Thermometer.
“A lot of the time, prior to the clinic, the men will test at a ‘3’ or higher, which indicates they are having a lot of distress,” Weaver said. “There has been a lot of research showing that increased anxiety and stress can cause a lot of health-related problems, so any way that we can decrease that stress is going to be helpful.”
From June 2017 to June 2018, 30 men with prostate cancer diagnoses attended the clinic, and more than half (53%) had a distress score of 3 or higher. Of those men with a higher distress score, 56% had a decrease in their score when reassessed 1 week after participating in the clinic.
Weaver and colleagues also evaluated patient satisfaction with the clinic, which measured a 4.9 on a 5-point scale.
According to Weaver, a lot of patients leave the clinic happier because they come away with more information, and, in some cases, having changed their mind about the best treatment going forward.
The clinic continues to meet once per month and hopes to increase its number of patients to 6 per clinic. In addition, they have also begun sending patient medical records to genetic counselors to determine if a referral for counseling is warranted.