van der Meulen, I.C., May, A.M., Ros, W.J., Oosterom, M., Hordijk, G.J., Koole, R., & de Leeuw, J.R. (2013). One-year effect of a nurse-led psychosocial intervention on depressive symptoms in patients with head and neck cancer: A randomized controlled trial. The Oncologist, 18, 336–344.doi:10.1634/theoncologist.2012-0299
To investigate the effects of a psychosocial nurse counseling and after intervention (NUCAI) versus usual care on symptoms of depression and physical symptoms related to the head or neck cancer (HNC) of patients one year after the diagnosis of HNC.
The NUCAI consisted of six bimonthly 45-minute counseling sessions. NUCAI is a problem-focused method aimed at helping patients to manage the physical, psychological, and social consequences of HNC and its treatment. The intervention consisted of these components: evaluating current mental status, discussing current problems, systematically asking about physical problems and functioning, and providing the adjustment to the fear, threat or expectation of recurrence (AFTER) intervention. AFTER was nurse led. During one year, six sessions were provided with usual and regular medical follow-up visits. Usual care involved 10-minute appointments every two months, for examination and review. Patients were randomly assigned to the intervention or control group. Data were collected every three months for one year.
Transition phase after active treatment
Randomized controlled trial
Study findings showed significant reduction in depression; therefore, this intervention can be used in clinical settings to improve patient outcomes (e.g., reduction of depression and improvement of physical symptoms).
This study utilized a nurse-led intervention for reduction of symptoms of depression in HNC patients. With proper training nurses can be equipped with the skill of providing psychological counseling to patients. Investigators noted that, compared to the cost of counseling offered by a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist, the nurse-led intervention seems a cost-effective method.