Collaboration between parents and nurses is essential to the care of children with neuroblastoma receiving 131I-metaiodobenzylguanidine (131I-MIBG), according to research published in the Journal of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nursing.

After 131I-MIBG infusion, patients are isolated for 3 to 7 days. This disrupts normal nursing tasks and places additional care responsibilities on the child’s parents.

Nurses who cared for a child treated with 131I-MIBG therapy were passively recruited for this study via flyers posted in pediatric oncology units. A total of 10 nurses participated in semistructured interviews about their experiences.

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The majority of nurses had cared for a single pediatric patient undergoing 131I-MIBG treatment in the previous 6 months (60%), were women (90%), and were White (80%). They had an average of 11.7 years of nursing experience and 9.2 years of pediatric oncology nursing experience.

All of the nurses described 131I-MIBG care as “hands-off care” due to the need for patient isolation. This resulted in nurses reporting a decreased sense of connection with their patients.

The nurses felt that parents were essential for post-131I-MIBG care delivery, as the parents must step in and provide the 1-on-1 care that nurses cannot perform during the patient’s isolation. However, problems arose when parents were not engaged, and nurses had to work at motivating the parents to deliver medication or perform other nursing tasks.

Most nurses reported feeling anxiety before their first 131I-MIBG patient case but said they felt confident thereafter. The most commonly endorsed supportive tool was the information binder describing protocols.

Radiation exposure was a concern for most nurses, especially those who were women of child-bearing age.

“Findings suggest that nurses would benefit from simulation experiences to help prepare for radiation exposure safety, strategies to engage the family in the child’s care, and interacting with a child in single-room isolation,” the researchers wrote. “Because programs differ around the US, additional research exploring nurses’ experiences is warranted to evaluate the best successes in providing 131I-MIBG therapy.”


Lankin K, LaFond CM, Yost A. Nurses’ experiences caring for children with neuroblastoma receiving 131I-metaiodobenzylguanidine therapy: a qualitative descriptive study. J Pediatr Hematol Oncol Nurs. Published online January 23, 2023. doi:10.1177/27527530221140070

This article originally appeared on Oncology Nurse Advisor