Cancer Symptoms Reduced With Nurse-Led Telehealth Management

By Leah Lawrence - November 8, 2022

Cancer treatment is associated with a variety of treatment-related symptoms. The use of telehealth services for remote symptom management has grown exponentially in recent years. A new study has found that nurse-led telehealth interventions for symptom management reduced patients’ symptom severity with no increase in utilization of health care resources.

“Nurses typically provide telehealth services, including responding to automated alerts, assessing symptom severity, guiding patients in self-care, and triaging those with severe symptoms,” study researchers wrote in Supportive Care in Cancer. “Nurse-led telehealth interventions for patients with cancer have been reported to improve patients’ self-care, provide more timely access to resources for symptom management and health care professionals, and increase convenience and flexibility.”

This study was designed to determine the efficacy of these nurse-led telehealth interventions. Researchers conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies of nurse-led telehealth symptom management interventions for patients receiving systemic or radiation therapy compared with usual care.

Ten studies were included. Of those studies, 5 analyzed reactive telehealth interventions with patient-initiated contact and 5 evaluated scheduled telehealth interventions initiated by nurses. Telephone-based interventions were the most common modality.

There were similar rates of hospitalizations, emergency department visits, or unscheduled clinic visits among patients who received nurse-led telehealth symptom management and those who received usual care.

In 2 of 3 studies, reactive telehealth interventions showed improved patient quality of life.

All telehealth interventions showed a reduction in the severity of most symptoms. For example, one study reported a reduction in anxiety and depression in older patients who received reactive telephone calls. Another study found a reduction in fatigue, neuropathy, distressful feelings, and mouth/throat problems in patients with breast cancer who received prechemotherapy nurse consultation via telephone calls. Specifically, pain severity was significantly reduced.

“Synthesizing findings across studies is limited, due to significant heterogeneity in the telehealth interventions, participants, and outcomes measured. Future research can improve the quality of evidence in this area by evaluating interventions more consistent with current practice for patients receiving cancer treatments and providing more consistent reporting of outcomes,” the researchers concluded.



Nurse-Led Telehealth Interventions for Symptom Management in Patients With Cancer Receiving Systemic or Radiation Therapy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis