Enhancing self-efficacy for optimized patient outcomes through the theory of symptom self-management

Cancer Nurs. Jan-Feb 2013;36(1):E16-26. doi: 10.1097/NCC.0b013e31824a730a.


Background: In today's world, greater patient empowerment is imperative because 90 million Americans live with 1 or more chronic conditions such as cancer. Evidence reveals that healthy behaviors such as effective symptom self-management can prevent or reduce much of the suffering from cancer. Oncology nurses play a pivotal role in developing a symptom self-management plan that is critical to optimizing a patient's symptom self-management behaviors.

Objective: This article uses exemplars to describe how oncology nurses can apply a tested middle-range theory, the Theory of Symptom Self-management, to clinical practice by incorporating interventions to increase a patient's perceived self-efficacy to optimize patient outcomes.

Methods: The Theory of Symptom Self-management provides a means to understand the dynamic aspects of symptom self-management and provides a tested framework for the development of efficacy-enhancing interventions for use by oncology nurses in clinical practice.

Results: Exemplars based on the Theory of Symptom Self-management depict how oncology nursing can use perceived self-efficacy-enhancing symptom self-management interventions to improve the functional status and quality of life of their patients.

Conclusion: Guided by a theoretical approach, oncology nurses can have a significant positive impact on the lives of their patients by reducing the symptom burden associated with cancer and its treatment.

Implications for practice: Oncology nurses can partner with their patients to design tailored approaches to symptom self-management. These tailored approaches provide the ability to implement patient-specific behaviors that recognize, prevent, relieve, or decrease the timing, intensity, distress, concurrence, and unpleasant quality of symptoms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Nurse's Role
  • Nurse-Patient Relations
  • Nursing Theory
  • Oncology Nursing / methods*
  • Patient Education as Topic*
  • Quality of Life
  • Self Care / methods*
  • Self Efficacy*