Will designated patient navigators fix the problem? Oncology nursing in transition

Can Oncol Nurs J. Summer 2010;20(3):116-28. doi: 10.5737/1181912x203116121.
[Article in English, French]


With increasing concern for equity and access across the cancer care system, we have seen expanding enthusiasm for various forms of designated patient "navigators" to facilitate coordination. While the intention is laudable, many of the popular implementation strategies risk accentuating strain upon the system and further complicating the coordination problem. These authors claim the motivation underlying the navigator movement can be reframed as an emerging recognition of the value of nursing work when it is optimally positioned to support patients, as they experience the cancer care system. This paper calls on Canadian oncology nurses to critically challenge navigation strategies, and adopt only those consistent with the significant reforms required to ensure a cancer care system so effective that external navigators are no longer necessary.

MeSH terms

  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Communication Barriers
  • Continuity of Patient Care / organization & administration*
  • Health Care Reform
  • Health Services Accessibility / organization & administration*
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Healthcare Disparities / organization & administration
  • Humans
  • Medical Oncology / organization & administration
  • Models, Nursing
  • National Health Programs
  • Neoplasms / mortality
  • Neoplasms / nursing*
  • Neoplasms / psychology
  • Nurse's Role*
  • Oncology Nursing / organization & administration*
  • Patient Advocacy*
  • Patient Care Team / organization & administration
  • Primary Health Care / organization & administration
  • Social Support