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Effects of Symptom Control Intervention on Utilization of Health Care Services Among Cancer Patients

Margot E. Kurtz, J.c. Kurtz, Charles W. Given, Barbara Given

Med Sci Monit 2006; 12(7): CR319-324

ID: 452208

Background: In this study we investigated the effects of a clinical nursingsymptom control intervention on utilization of physician, hospital and emergency room services. Material/Methods:Two hundred twenty-two patients currently undergoing chemotherapy were recruited for the study, and wererandomized into either the 10-contact, 20-week experimental intervention group (110), where the interventionfocused on assisting the patient in managing their symptoms, or to a conventional care control group(112). Results: A random effects regression model revealed that patients in the intervention group reportedfewer emergency room visits than patients in the control group (p=0.050). Greater symptom severity andmore comorbid conditions were also predictive of more emergency room visits. The intervention was effectivein reducing the number of hospital visits for the subgroup of patients who at baseline reported aboveaverage symptom severity (p=0.023). Conclusions: These findings suggest that a nursing intervention focusingon educating patients regarding specific strategies to be applied for controlling symptoms may be worthwhile,as the patients may regain some control in managing their symptoms and thus ultimately require feweremergency room services and hospital visits. Such a straightforward approach may empower patients, enhancetheir quality of life and reduce overall costs of cancer care.

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