Purpose: To assess the effectiveness of a symptom-focused home care program in patients with cancer who were receiving oral chemotherapy in relation to toxicity levels, anxiety, depression, quality of life, and service utilization. Patients and Methods: A randomized, controlled trial was carried out with 164 patients with a diagnosis of colorectal (n = 110) and breast (n = 54) cancers who were receiving oral capecitabine. Patients were randomly assigned to receive either a home care program by a nurse or standard care for 18 weeks (ie, six cycles of chemotherapy). Toxicity assessments were carried out weekly for the duration of the patients' participation in the trial, and validated self-report tools assessed anxiety, depression, and quality of life. Results: Significant improvements were observed in the home care group in relation to the symptoms of oral mucositis, diarrhea, constipation, nausea, pain, fatigue (first four cycles), and insomnia (all P < .05). This improvement was most significant during the initial two cycles. Unplanned service utilization, particularly the number of inpatient days (57 v 167 days; P = .02), also was lower in the home care group. Conclusion: A symptom-focused home care program was able to assist patients to manage their treatment adverse effects more effectively than standard care. It is imperative that patients receiving oral chemotherapy are supported with such programs, particularly during initial treatment cycles, to improve their treatment and symptom experiences.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research