MSU to Study At-Home vs Inpatient Care After Breast Cancer Surgery

June 1, 1997

With the proper nursing care, do women recovering from breast cancer surgery do better at home than in the hospital? To answer this question, researchers at Michigan State University's colleges of Nursing and Human Medicine are undertaking

With the proper nursing care, do women recovering from breast cancersurgery do better at home than in the hospital?

To answer this question, researchers at Michigan State University'scolleges of Nursing and Human Medicine are undertaking a project that willdetermine how much and what kind of care these women need. The study alsowill provide excellent postsurgical at-home nursing care for hundreds ofwomen.

"Women who have had a mastectomy or lumpectomy face many physicaland emotional adjustments," said Gwen Wyatt, associate professor ofnursing and project director. "We may find that these issues can beaddressed more effectively in the home, if nurses and other health careprofessionals can find creative ways to provide the support women needat a reasonable cost."

The study, called Nursing Care for Breast Cancer, will offer women thesame kind of follow-up attention they would traditionally receive in thehospital. Participants will receive at least two home visits and two telephonecontacts by a registered nurse during the first 2 weeks after surgery.

"Many women want to go home as soon as possible after surgery,"Wyatt said. "But breast surgeries done on an outpatient basis--theso-called 'drive-through mastectomies'--give nursing staff very littletime to teach women what they need to know in order to avoid post-surgicalcomplications."

"Traditionally, women were hospitalized five to 10 days after amastectomy," she said. "Drains that prevent fluid retention atthe surgical site were removed before discharge. Now, women often go homewithin hours after surgery and the drain is taken out by a doctor duringa later office visit."

To participate in this study, a woman must be at least 21 years of age,have a confirmed diagnosis of breast cancer, be mentally competent, bescheduled for surgery, and, ultimately, be discharged from the hospitalwithin 48 hours.

Funding for the project is provided by the US Army Medical Researchand Materiel Command, Department of Defense. Project co-directors are CharlesGiven, professor of family practice, College of Human Medicine, and BarbaraGiven, professor of nursing. For more information, call (517) 432-5511.