Nurse-led follow-up care for head and neck cancer patients: a quasi-experimental prospective trial

Support Care Cancer. 2013 Feb;21(2):537-47. doi: 10.1007/s00520-012-1553-1. Epub 2012 Aug 4.


Purpose: The aim of this study was to compare conventional medical follow-up with follow-up containing additional nursing consultations regarding the psychosocial adjustment and health-related quality of life (HRQOL) of head and neck cancer patients.

Methods: Using a quasi-experimental design, patients were enrolled consecutively into two groups. Experimental care covered six 30-min bimonthly nursing follow-up consultations during the first year posttreatment. Data were collected at posttreatment months 1 (baseline), 6, and 12 for both groups.

Results: The intervention group was significantly worse at baseline, based on two of the seven adjustment scales and on the majority of HRQOL scales. However, their outcome at 6 and 12 months was consistent with that of the group which received conventional follow-up. Thus, the intervention group had a larger improvement in scores, and this was significant for one of the seven adjustment scales and 19 of the 33 HRQOL scales at 6 and 12 months, respectively. Most of the differences in HRQOL scales were clinically relevant at 6 months.

Conclusion: These results suggest that nurse-led consultations for patients with head and neck cancer have a positive effect, primarily with respect to HRQOL. Nurse-led follow-up leads to a similar psychosocial adjustment as conventional follow-up, even among patients who showed worse performance at the start of follow-up. Thus, nurse-led follow-up may be a cost-effective way to improve follow-up care for this patient group.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Continuity of Patient Care / organization & administration*
  • Continuity of Patient Care / standards
  • Female
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / nursing*
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / psychology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands
  • Nurse-Patient Relations
  • Oncology Nursing / methods*
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Pilot Projects
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life*
  • Sickness Impact Profile
  • Young Adult