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ECCO Oncopolicy project

Systematic review


To identify, appraise and synthesize the available evidence relating to the value and impact of cancer nursing on patient experience and outcomes.


Cancer nurses play a central role in caring for individuals diagnosed and living with and beyond cancer. However, in some countries across Europe, there is little recognition of the value of cancer nursing. There is an emerging literature that recognizes the importance of cancer nurses in caring for people with cancer; however, a systematic review examining the impact and value of cancer nursing across the cancer spectrum was lacking. 

This systematic review identified published studies and on-going trials by searching multiple electronic databases (Medline, AMED, Epistemonikos, CINAHL, Embase, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled, DARE, HTA, CDSR), clinical trial registries (WHO ICTRP) from 01 January 2000 to 30 May 2016.  RCTs, quasi-RCT and CBA studies were included. Key information relating to the intervention was extracted in accordance with the Template for Intervention Description and Replication (TIDieR) guidelines Cancer nursing roles were defined using the Canadian Association of Nurses in Oncology (CANO) definition for generalist, specialist and advanced oncology nurses. Interventions were classified using the OMAHA nursing intervention classification.

The search identified 22450; screened 16169 abstracts and considered 925 full papers, of which 518 studies were excluded.  This resulted in 316 reports of 214 unique studies that were eligible for inclusion in our qualitative synthesis. Cancer nursing interventions were classified as: Case management (n=38); Surveillance (n= 27); Teaching, counselling and guidance (n=131); and Treatment and procedures (n = 18).  The review has highlighted that evidence for certain cancer groups and stages of the cancer care continuum are limited.


This is the first systematic review to focus on cancer nursing across all stages of the cancer continuum.  It fulfils the first stage of the Recognising European Cancer Nursing (RECaN) project, funded by the European Cancer Organisation and European Oncology Nursing Society.  The findings of this review inform the second and third stages of the RECaN project: a multiple case study of cancer nursing across four contrasting European countries (Stage 2) and a policy initiative to engage with policymakers across Europe to strengthen the education, recognition and contribution of cancer nurses in European countries (Stage 3).

Principal Investigator: Dr Pauline Campbell

NMAHP Research Unit Collaborators: Professor Mary Wells

Funder: European Oncology Nursing Society

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