(HealthDay News) — For patients with early cancer, a nurse navigator intervention can improve patient experience and reduce problems with care, according to a study published online Nov. 25 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Edward H. Wagner, M.P.H., from the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle, and colleagues conducted a randomized trial to examine whether a nurse navigator intervention improves quality of life and experience with care in a trial involving 251 adults with recently diagnosed primary breast, colorectal, or lung cancer. Participants were randomized to receive enhanced usual care (118 patients) or nurse navigator support (133 patients) for four months.

The researchers found that there were no significant between-group differences in the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-General Quality of Life scale. Significantly higher scores were reported on the Patient Assessment of Chronic Illness Care by patients in the nurse navigator intervention. Patients in the nurse navigator intervention also reported significantly fewer problems with care, especially in the Picker instrument-measured subscales of psychosocial care, care coordination, and information. There was no significant difference between the groups in cumulative costs after diagnosis, but among nurse navigator patients, lung cancer costs were $6,852 less.

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“Compared with enhanced usual care, nurse navigator support for patients with cancer early in their course improves patient experience and reduces problems in care, but did not differentially affect quality of life,” the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to Group Health Physicians.

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