Take 5-Development of a Pilot Mentor-to-Mentor Program for Breast Brachytherapy Patients

May 19, 2011

A pilot mentor-to-mentor oncology nurse–led training program was developed in which volunteer former patients who have undergone brachytherapy for early stage breast cancer at UCSD were taught by the oncology nurse how to provide information and support to new patients about to undergo the procedure.

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Oncology Nursing Society 36th Annual Congress

Poster/ abstract 1053331-Development of a Pilot Mentor-to-Mentor Program for Breast Brachytherapy Patients at UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center

Eva G. Baruian, MPH, RN-BC, OCN; Catheryn M. Yashar, MD

Department of Radiation Oncology, University of California San Diego Moores Cancer Center, La Jolla, CA

Many UCSD patients surveyed have requested supportive services to help them through the brachytherapy process, and in particular expressed interest in talking with others who have experienced the procedure.

A pilot mentor-to-mentor oncology nurse–led training program was developed in which volunteer former patients who have undergone brachytherapy for early stage breast cancer at UCSD were taught by the oncology nurse how to provide information and support to new patients about to undergo the procedure.

• Volunteer mentors were invited to attend the training class during a breast brachytherapy support group meeting at UCSD. New patients scheduled for breast brachytherapy also were invited to the training class and were reminded about the class during their appointment with their radiation oncologist. Contact phone numbers of volunteer mentors were provided to patients who were unable to attend the class.

• Mentors received an educational training checklist, with guidelines on important information about treatment to share with new patients, as well as instructions on how to provide new patients with supportive educational information.

Nine patients participated in the pilot study. They completed a survey before and after the Mentor Class to allow the investigators to measure changes in self-reported preparedness for brachytherapy, anxiety level, knowledge of supportive services related to breast brachytherapy, and overall effectiveness of the Mentor-to-Mentor Training Program.

• After talking with a mentor, patients reported significantly decreased anxiety and increased knowledge and sense of preparedness regarding brachytherapy. They said they felt better able to cope with undergoing the procedure.

Plans are underway to expand the Mentor-to-Mentor class quarterly during the regularly scheduled patient support group meeting of breast brachytherapy patients at UCSD. Additional targeted strategies are being explored to reduce anxiety in this patient group.