A breast navigator program: barriers, enhancers, and nursing interventions

Oncol Nurs Forum. 2011 Jan;38(1):44-50. doi: 10.1188/11.ONF.44-50.


Purpose/objectives: to identify barriers to and enhancers of completion of breast cancer treatment from the perspective of participants in a breast health navigator program.

Research approach: qualitative, using focus group methodology and telephone interview.

Setting: two teaching hospital ambulatory cancer centers.

Participants: women enrolled in the breast navigator program, including patients who completed (n = 13) and did not complete (n = 1) breast cancer treatment.

Methodologic approach: researchers used semistructured, open-ended questioning to guide the interviews and elicit identification of barriers to and enhancers of treatment. A flexible approach was used and the interviews were recorded. Content analysis was used to identify themes.

Main research variables: perceived barriers and enhancers of breast cancer treatment.

Findings: the most common theme was the value of the education and information received from the navigator. Several participants saw this as the essence of the role. Assistance with managing symptoms, access to financial and community resources, and the team approach were completion enhancers.

Conclusions: completion of breast cancer therapy and care can be improved by recognizing the value the nurse navigator role brings to the patient experience and enhancing that role.

Interpretation: the intentional presence of the oncology nurse and the nursing emphasis on culturally appropriate education and care can be seen as key competencies of the navigator. As the concept of the navigation process is expanded to other cancers, oncology nurses are particularly well positioned to advocate for the navigator role as a nursing domain.

MeSH terms

  • Ambulatory Care
  • Breast Neoplasms / nursing*
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Breast Neoplasms, Male / nursing*
  • Breast Neoplasms, Male / therapy*
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Oncology Nursing / methods*
  • Patient Care Team
  • Patient Satisfaction