Self-management for adult patients with cancer an integrative review: An integrative review

Marilyn J. Hammer, Elizabeth A. Ercolano, Fay Wright, Victoria Vaughan Dickson, Deborah Chyun, Gail D.Eramo Melkus

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: Individuals with cancer are surviving long term, categorizing cancer asa a chronic condition, and with it, numerous healthcare challenges. Symptoms, in particular, can be burdensome and occur from prediagnosis through many years after treatment. Symptom severity is inversely associated with functional status and quality of life. Objective: Management of these millions of survivors of cancer in a stressed healthcare system necessitates effective self-care strategies. The purpose of this integrative review is to evaluate intervention studies led by nurse principal investigators for self-care management in patients with cancer. Methods: PubMed, CINAHL (Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied health Literature), and the Cochrane Database were searched from January 2000 through August 2012. Search terms included "symptom management and cancer," "self-management and cancer," and "self-care and cancer." All articles for consideration included intervention studies with a nurse as the primary principal investigator. Results: Forty-six articles were included yielding 3 intervention areas of educational and/or counseling sessions, exercise, and complementary and alternative therapies. Outcomes were predominately symptom focused and often included functional status and quality of life. Few studies had objective measures. Overarching themes were mitigation, but not prevention or elimination of symptoms, and improved quality of life related to functional status. No one intervention was superior to another for any given outcome. Conclusions: Current interventions that direct patients in self-care management of symptoms and associated challenges with cancer/survivorship are helpful, but incomplete. No one intervention can be recommended over another. Implications for Practice: Guiding patients with cancer in self-care management is important for overall functional status and quality of life. Further investigation and tailored interventions are warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E10-E26
JournalCancer Nursing
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 5 2015


  • Cancer
  • Self-care
  • Self-management
  • Symptom-management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Oncology(nursing)


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