Current practice patterns for oral chemotherapy: results of a national survey

Oncol Nurs Forum. 2014 Mar 1;41(2):185-94. doi: 10.1188/14.ONF.41-02AP.


Purpose/objectives: To describe current nursing practices in the United States regarding care and safety of patients taking oral chemotherapy.

Design: This three-phase study consisted of development, validation, and implementation of a national online survey.

Setting: Survey of oncology nurses in outpatient settings.

Sample: 577 oncology nurses.

Methods: Surveys were emailed to 5,000 members of the Oncology Nursing Society. The survey included 17 forced-choice items and one free-text item. Descriptive statistics and content analysis were obtained.

Main research variables: Patient care practices, nursing resources, and barriers to medication adherence.

Findings: Fifty-one percent of the respondents worked in practices that had developed specific policies, procedures, and resources for patients on oral chemotherapy. Barriers to treatment adherence included cost (81%) and adverse effects (72%). Practices with specific policies differed in clinical and statistical significance from practices without policies on almost every survey item. Free-text responses revealed that many practices have erratic procedures and inadequate interdisciplinary communication.

Conclusions: Systematic reliable policies and procedures for patient education, documentation, and interdisciplinary communication are urgently needed.

Implications for nursing: Nurses should provide education and repeated teaching to improve patient safety, adherence to the medication, and self-monitoring for adverse effects.

Keywords: ambulatory care; chemotherapy; clinical practice; oral chemotherapy; patient education.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Ambulatory Care
  • Antineoplastic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects
  • Health Care Surveys / methods*
  • Health Care Surveys / standards*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Medication Adherence
  • Medication Errors / prevention & control
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / nursing*
  • Oncology Nursing*
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • United States


  • Antineoplastic Agents