Resilience among patients across the cancer continuum: diverse perspectives.

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Each phase of the cancer experience profoundly affects patients' lives. Much of the literature has focused on negative consequences of cancer; however, the study of resilience may enable providers to promote more positive psychosocial outcomes before, during, and after the cancer experience. The current review describes the ways in which elements of resilience have been defined and studied at each phase of the cancer continuum. Extensive literature searches were conducted to find studies assessing resilience during one or more stages of the adult cancer continuum. For all phases of the cancer continuum, resilience descriptions included preexisting or baseline characteristics, such as demographics and personal attributes (e.g., optimism, social support), mechanisms of adaptation, such as coping and medical experiences (e.g., positive provider communication), as well as psychosocial outcomes, such as growth and quality of life. Promoting resilience is a critical element of patient psychosocial care. Nurses may enable resilience by recognizing and promoting certain baseline characteristics and optimizing mechanisms of adaptation.

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School of Medicine at the Seattle Children's Hospital, at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, University of Washington.

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Each phase of the cancer experience profoundly affects patients' lives. Much of the literature has focused on negative consequences of cancer; however, the study of resilience may enable providers to promote more positive psychosocial outcomes before, during, and after the cancer experience. The current review describes the ways in which elements of resilience have been defined and studied at each phase of the cancer continuum. Extensive literature searches were conducted to find studies assessing resilience during one or more stages of the adult cancer continuum. For all phases of the cancer continuum, resilience descriptions included preexisting or baseline characteristics, such as demographics and personal attributes (e.g., optimism, social support), mechanisms of adaptation, such as coping and medical experiences (e.g., positive provider communication), as well as psychosocial outcomes, such as growth and quality of life. Promoting resilience is a critical element of patient psychosocial care. Nurses may enable resilience by recognizing and promoting certain baseline characteristics and optimizing mechanisms of adaptation.

Cancer care nursing is perceived as personally and professionally demanding. Developing effective coping skills and resilience has been associated with better health and wellbeing for nurses, work longevity and improved quality of patient care.
The objective of this systematic review was to identify personal and organizational strategies that promote coping and resilience in oncology and palliative care nurses caring for adult patients with malignancy.
The search strategy identified published and unpublished studies from 2007 to 2013. Individual search strategies were developed for the 12 databases accessed and search alerts established. The review considered qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods studies that assessed personal or organizational interventions, programs or strategies that promoted coping and resilience. These included studies employing clinical supervision, staff retreats, psycho-educational programs, compassion fatigue resilience programs, stress inoculation therapy and individual approaches that reduced the emotional impact of cancer care work. The outcomes of interest were the experience of factors that influence an individual's coping and resilience and outcomes of validated measures of coping or resilience. Methodological quality of studies was independently assessed by two reviewers prior to inclusion in the review using standardized critical appraisal instruments developed by the Joanna Briggs Institute. Standardized Joanna Briggs Institute tools were also used to extract data. Agreement on the synthesis of the findings from qualitative studies was reached through discussion. The results of quantitative studies could not be statistically pooled given the different study designs, interventions and outcome measures. These studies were presented in narrative form.
Twenty studies were included in the review. Ten studies examined the experience of nurse's caring for the dying, the emotional impact of palliative care and oncology work and strategies to prevent burnout or avoid compassion fatigue, challenges in self-care, and processes nurses adopted to cope with work related stress. Six studies evaluated different interventions provided by organizations to improve coping and resilience. Evidence for the effectiveness of interventions was limited to three studies. The results are discussed under four headings: (i) preventative measures (ii) control measures (iii) unburdening and "letting go", and (iv) growing and thriving.
This review identified a number of strategies to better prepare nurses for practice and maintain their psychological wellbeing. Although no firm conclusions can be drawn in respect to the most effective interventions, strategies with merit included those that: a) foster connections within the team; b) provide education and training to develop behaviors that assist in controlling or limiting the intensity of stress, or aiding recovery; and c) assist in processing emotion and learning from experiences. Although individuals must take responsibility for developing personal strategies to assist coping and resilience, organizational support is integral to equipping individuals to deal with work related challenges.
A range of formal and informal support is required to promote coping and resilience.
There is a need for large, well designed, multisite, experimental studies to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions that promote coping and resilience in adult palliative care or oncology nurses.

2015Jan
JBI Database System Rev Implement Rep
JBI Database System Rev Implement Rep 2015 Jan;13(1):99-111

The objective of this review is to synthesize the best available evidence on palliative care experiences of adult cancer patients from ethnocultural groups.More specifically, this systematic review seeks to answer the following questions:1. What are the palliative care experiences of adult cancer patients from diverse ethnocultural groups?2. What meanings do adult patients with cancer from diverse ethnocultural groups assign to their experiences with palliative care?
Globally, over 20.4 million people need palliative care services annually. The majority of these people (19 million) are adults, with 34% of them being patients diagnosed with cancer. With the current increase in the aging population, especially in developed countries, the number of adults requiring palliative care is expected to rise. Furthermore, how palliative care is offered and received continues to be shaped by culture and ethnicity. Likewise, culture and ethnicity influence how palliative care patients experience diseases like cancer, and seek and utilize palliative care services. Also, healthcare providers sometimes find it challenging to address the palliative care needs of patients from different ethnocultural groups. Sometimes these challenges are believed to be due to cultural incompetence of the care provider. When palliative care patients and their providers differ in their perception of care needs and how to address them, negative palliative care experiences are likely to ensue. Therefore, as the demand for palliative care increases, and ethnocultural factors continue to affect palliation, it is important to gain a better understanding of palliative care experiences of patients from different ethnocultural groups.The terms culture and ethnicity have been defined and used differently in literature which sometimes lead to confusion. Ethnicity has been defined as distinctive shared origins or social backgrounds and traditions of a group of people that are maintained between generations and bring about a sense of identity that may encompass a common language and religion. Ethnicity is fluid and should not be confused with nationality or migration or race. In this review, we define ethnicity in relation to the self-identification of participants in studies that will be included in the review.Culture refers to patterns of explanatory models, beliefs, values and customs. These patterns may be informed and expressed in things like diet, clothing or rituals, or in the form of language and social or political systems. Culture may be fluid because of developments in people's lives. In light of the aforementioned definitions, and recognizing the inconsistency in how these terms are sometimes used, the authors of this review define ethnocultural patients, as described in papers to be reviewed, as those who belong to an ethnic group by way of involvement, attachment, self-labelling or attitude towards the group, and who share cultural traditions, ancestry, language, nationality or country of origin.Palliative care in the context of cancer focuses on the improvement of the quality of life of patients by addressing their physical, emotional and spiritual needs, and by supporting their families. Palliative care is often associated with supportive and hospice care. Supportive care emphasizes meeting patients' needs such as physical, mental, social, psychological, emotional and material needs from the period before diagnosis, during diagnosis, treatment to the follow-up period in the cancer trajectory. Hospice care in the context of cancer aims to relieve patients' pain and suffering, and improve their quality of life. Hospice care includes palliative care services and other services such as case management, respite care and bereavement care. Hospice care focuses on patients with terminal illness (i.e. with expected survival of less than six months) and their families. Moreover, hospice care is facilitated by a multidisciplinary team of physicians, nurses, social workers, chaplains, home health aides and volunteers.Palliative care needs for cancer patients are numerous and may include needs related to activities of daily living, communication, sexuality, physical needs, psychological needs, fear, spiritual wellbeing, socioeconomic aspects and insufficiency of information. Cancer patients often report of suffering, pain and being in constant need of support. In dealing with their suffering, some patients seek internal motivation by looking at the disease as a life challenge. Other patients turn to external sources of motivation like religion, or peer and family support groups.Patients from different ethnocultural groups report similar as well as dissimilar palliative care needs and experiences. With respect to similarities, a study from the United States found that African American and Caucasian patients alike valued practical assistance from social groups. Participants from both ethnocultural groups valued friends and families that listened to their cancer-related concerns. Similarly, Turkish and Moroccan patients in a study conducted in Netherlands valued friends and family members that were there for them. Additionally, participants particularly of African American descent treasured positive attitudes from people around them and valued support from religion and faith communities. These sentiments are echoed in a palliative care study conducted in the United Kingdom. In the UK study, Caribbean Blacks and British White patients appreciated the significance of social networks and partner or spousal support in their cancer trajectory.In regards to unsupportive palliative care experiences, authors of the United States study report that African Americans and Caucasians had more similarities than differences. Firstly, both ethnocultural groups shared experiences of losing association with family and close friends after they learnt of the patients' diagnosis. These sentiments were also reported by Danish-born and immigrant patients in a study by Kristiansen and colleagues. Secondly, both African American and Caucasian patients felt responsible for the emotional wellbeing of their loved ones.When it comes to differences in palliative care needs and experiences, Grange and colleagues report that African American and Caucasian participants valued provision of housing which included daily patient care. Participants treasured the opportunity to either move or have family members move in and live with them. However, more African American than Caucasian participants had experiences of moving in with a family member. Important differences in unsupportive palliative care were also reported. Although both African Americans and Caucasians lost friends and family members following knowledge of the cancer diagnoses, more African Americans than Caucasians were likely to report losing friendship. Additionally, African Americans experienced diminished independence mainly because of overprotection from family and friends. Diminishing independence is echoed in the Dutch study involving Turkish and Moroccan patients. However, in the Dutch study, healthcare providers appeared to advocate for patients' independence which contradicted with the value placed by family members in protecting their loved one.In another American study, Latina women desired health-related information more often than their Caucasian American counterparts. The need for information by Latina women was irrespective of their socio-demographic factors, including level of education.The aforementioned similarities and differences in palliative care experiences call for further exploration of ethnocultural palliative care patients' experiences. A better understanding of their experiences will create avenues for finding better ways of providing palliative care, preventing psychological distress and improving quality of life and death.Understanding ethnocultural issues is important because the unique characteristics of ethnocultural groups often inform approaches to palliative care. Ethnocultural meanings of illness, suffering and dying define the theoretical underpinnings that patients and healthcare providers draw upon in their relations. Furthermore, Baker suggests that the provision and receipt of palliative care is more related to culture or ethnicity than to age, education, socioeconomic status or other variables. Moreover, culture affects communication, decision-making, response to symptoms, treatment choices and emotional expression at the end of life.Palliative care patients often regard recommendations from healthcare providers as very useful. Similarly, healthcare providers may find ethnocultural knowledge beneficial in the provision of palliative care. When ethnocultural knowledge is lacking, healthcare providers, especially those with minimal training on ethnocultural issues, may provide unsatisfactory palliative care. Similarly, when ethnocultural differences are overlooked or inadequately addressed, inferior care often occurs. Inferior care which may involve inequality in utilization of and access to palliative care services, pain and symptom management and location of death, is especially disturbing when adequate palliative care resources exist in some health institutions.Although qualitative and quantitative research has been conducted in this area, no systematic review compiling findings on ethnocultural patients' experiences of palliative care has been conducted or is underway as per the Joanna Briggs Institute Database of Systematic Reviews and Implementation Reports, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews or PROSPERO. The purpose of this systematic review is to summarize findings of qualitative studies that focus on ethnocultural patients' experience of palliative care. (ABSTRACT TRUNCATED)

Some cancer survivors report positive subjective changes they describe as "life transforming." We used a grounded theory approach to identify the content, underlying process, and identifying characteristics of self-defined "life-transforming" changes (LTCs) reported by 9 cancer survivors. To actualize their hopes for improvement, participants used a self-guided process centered on pragmatic action: researching options, gaining experience, and frankly evaluating results. Many participants discovered unanticipated personal abilities and resources, and those became highly useful in coping with other challenges apart from cancer. This made the increased personal abilities and resources "life transforming" rather than being substantially limited to reducing cancer-related problems. The action-oriented features and processes of LTCs seemed to be more fully described by experiential learning theory than by posttraumatic growth and coping. Supportive intervention to facilitate positive change processes could decrease suffering and enhance positive psychosocial and spiritual outcomes for cancer survivors.

Promoting resilience is an aspect of psychosocial care that affects patient and whole-family well-being. There is little consensus about how to define or promote resilience during and after pediatric cancer.
The aims of this study were (1) to review the resilience literature in pediatric cancer settings; (2) to qualitatively ascertain caregiver-reported perceptions of resilience; and (3) to develop an integrative model of fixed and mutable factors of resilience among family members of children with cancer, with the goal of enabling better study and promotion of resilience among pediatric cancer families.
The study entailed qualitative analysis of small group interviews with eighteen bereaved parents and family members of children with cancer treated at Seattle Children's Hospital. Small-group interviews were conducted with members of each bereaved family. Participant statements were coded for thematic analysis. An integrative, comprehensive framework was then developed.
Caregivers' personal appraisals of the cancer experience and their child's legacy shape their definitions of resilience. Described factors of resilience include baseline characteristics (i.e., inherent traits, prior expectations of cancer), processes that evolve over time (i.e., coping strategies, social support, provider interactions), and psychosocial outcomes (i.e., post-traumatic growth and lack of psychological distress). These elements were used to develop a testable model of resilience among family members of children with cancer.
Resilience is a complex construct that may be modifiable. Once validated, the proposed framework will not only serve as a model for clinicians, but may also facilitate the development of interventions aimed at promoting resilience in family members of children with cancer.

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Affiliation Details

  • School of Medicine at the Seattle Children's Hospital, at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, University of Washington.
  • School of Medicine at the Seattle Children's Hospital
Affiliation School of Medicine at the Seattle Children's Hospital, at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, University of Washington.