Overcoming barriers to cancer-helpline professionals providing decision support for callers: an implementation study

Oncol Nurs Forum. 2008 Nov;35(6):961-9. doi: 10.1188/08.ONF.961-969.


Purpose/objectives: To evaluate the effect of an intervention on healthcare professionals' perceptions of barriers influencing their provision of decision support for callers facing cancer-related decisions.

Design: A pre- and post-test study guided by the Ottawa Model of Research Use.

Setting: Australian statewide cancer call center that provides public access to information and supportive cancer services.

Sample: 34 nurses, psychologists, and other allied healthcare professionals at the cancer call center.

Methods: Participants completed baseline measures and, subsequently, were exposed to an intervention that included a decision support tutorial, coaching protocol, and skill-building workshop. Strategies were implemented to address organizational barriers.

Main research variables: Perceived barriers and facilitators influencing provision of decision support, decision support knowledge, quality of decision support provided to standardized callers, and call length.

Findings: Postintervention participants felt more prepared, confident in providing decision support, and aware of decision support resources. They had a stronger belief that providing decision support was within their role. Participants significantly improved their knowledge and provided higher-quality decision support to standardized callers without changing call length.

Conclusions: The implementation intervention overcame several identified barriers that influenced call center professionals when providing decision support.

Implications for nursing: Nurses and other helpline professionals have the potential to provide decision support designed to help callers understand cancer information, clarify their values associated with their options, and reduce decisional conflict. However, they require targeted education and organizational interventions to reduce their perceived barriers to providing decision support.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Allied Health Personnel / education*
  • Australia
  • Communication Barriers*
  • Decision Making*
  • Educational Measurement
  • Family
  • Helping Behavior
  • Hotlines* / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Nurses / psychology
  • Oncology Nursing / education
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods*
  • Patients / psychology
  • Program Evaluation
  • Psychology, Medical / education
  • Teaching Materials