Take 5-Chemotherapy at Mayo Clinic: A Photo Guide to Help You Prepare-A Booklet to Help Decrease Anxiety Levels in Chemotherapy Patients

May 19, 2011

Cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy can be very anxious at the initiation of treatment. Cancer center–specific patient education materials that detail what patients can anticipate at each step of the chemotherapy process may alleviate patients’ anxiety and improve their overall experience with chemotherapy.

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Oncology Nursing Society 36th Annual Congress
Poster/ abstract 1053706-Chemotherapy at Mayo Clinic: A Photo Guide to Help You Prepare-A Booklet to Help Decrease Anxiety Levels in Chemotherapy Patients

Crystal R. Hilger, RN, BSN, OCN; Sherry A. Looker, RN, BSN, OCN; Kelli Fee-Schroder, RN, BSN, OCN; Sarah A. Christensen, MA; Deborah A. Schmidt
Department of Medical Oncology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota

Cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy can be very anxious at the initiation of treatment. Cancer center–specific patient education materials that detail what patients can anticipate at each step of the chemotherapy process may alleviate patients’ anxiety and improve their overall experience with chemotherapy.

Oncology nurses in the ambulatory cancer treatment unit at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, with the assistance of Mayo’s Department of Patient Education and Cancer Education Program, developed a photo booklet to help decrease anxiety levels in chemotherapy patients by providing a “behind-the-scenes” description of the various stages of the process using actual Mayo Clinic patients as models and showing photographs of various relevant departments/rooms at Mayo. The booklet is also intended to foster discussion between patients and the chemotherapy team.

The booklet, Chemotherapy at Mayo Clinic: A Photo Guide to Help You Prepare (MC214690), includes an introduction and the following chapters: About Chemotherapy, Your Care Behind the Scenes, Checking in for Treatment, Blood Tests, While Waiting in the Lobby, How You Receive Chemotherapy, When Your Chemotherapy Team Is Ready, On the Way to Treatment, Ensuring the Right Dose, Many Friendly Faces, While Receiving Treatment, Nurses Help to Care for You, Other Medications, In the Pharmacy, Preparing Your Chemotherapy, Ready to Begin, Giving Chemotherapy Through an IV, Giving Chemotherapy Through a Port, Careful Documentation, Setting Up Your Next Appointment.

• To assess the impact of the booklet, providers and clinical assistants helped to distribute it to new patients in Mayo’s ambulatory chemotherapy unit, and chemotherapy nurses asked patients to take a survey rating their anxiety levels, before reading the booklet and after reading it and receiving their initial treatment.

• Efficacy of the photo booklet in reducing patients’ anxiety levels was tested by surveying 100 newly diagnosed patients ranging in age from 21 to > 70 years (82% were 50–70+ years old). Most (91%) received IV chemotherapy and others (9%) received injections and/or pills.

• Prior to reading the guide, 44% of the patients had no or low anxiety and 56% had medium to high anxiety, compared with 61% and 32%, respectively, reporting no/low or medium/high anxiety after reading the guide (with 7% of patients not commenting on anxiety level). The results will be shared with the Medical Oncology and Hematology departments.

Future plans for use of the photo guide include routine incorporation into the initial chemotherapy experience, its possible inclusion in appointment materials that are mailed to new patients, provision of the guide to patients by desk staff at patient check-in for chemotherapy, and making it available to all new patients attending the Mayo Cancer Education Program chemotherapy education classes.