Dr Sara Douglas: Video Conference Interventions Are an Invaluable Resource for Those Who Choose to Participate

June 6, 2020

A multidisciplinary team of oncologists, health care providers, caregivers, and the patients themselves benefits everyone, and telehealth-based interventions can help to foster these relationships, but we should understand when patients do not want to involve their families in their care, noted Sara L. Douglas, PhD, RN, the Gertrude Perkins Oliva Professor in Oncology Nursing and associate dean for research at the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.

A multidisciplinary team of oncologists, health care providers, caregivers, and the patients themselves benefits everyone, and telehealth-based interventions can help to foster these relationships, but we should understand when patients do not want to involve their families in their care, noted Sara L. Douglas, PhD, RN, the Gertrude Perkins Oliva Professor in Oncology Nursing and associate dean for research at the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.

Transcript:

The Theme for this year’s ASCO20 Virtual Scientific Meeting is “Unite and Conquer: Accelerating Progress Together;” how does your poster on video conference interventions for distance caregivers of patients with cancer reflect this theme?

You know that was such an interesting question that you asked. Because to be honest, I didn't even know that that was the theme of this year's conference. So it was really an appropriate question to ask. As I thought about it, I really thought that this study represented all of the good and the positive that comes when all the members of the team unite for the benefit of the patient. And so in this research study, we had to rely on the oncologist to participate and the health care providers to be involved, as well as the patient, the local caregiver, and the distance caregiver, and by all of us sort of working together in conjunction with the researchers, we were able to test an intervention that's not only going to help the distance caregiver but has a potential to help patients as well.

Did you find that people were eager to participate or were they reticent?

What was interesting was all of the physicians were very interested in participating. This is one of the few intervention studies I've done where people didn't, you know, run to hide when they saw you coming, you know? So they were very interested and engaged, as were other members of the health care team. Our refusal rate for participation was about 20%, which is less than what we usually see for our clinical intervention studies, but nonetheless, it was interesting that sometimes the distance caregiver didn't want to participate. But sometimes the patient didn't want them to participate.

And one of the things when I would be involved in talking to a patient about whether or not they were interested in the study, and then would they give us permission to reach out to their distance caregiver, you know one of the things I recognize is that sometimes our family members are distant for a reason, you know, and so not all families want to be together, want to share information, etc. And so I think, even though some of the health care providers were very surprised that there were times when a patient did not want their extended family involved, when you think about it, you know, each family unit is different and so it's very understandable. So we did have some patients and some distance caregivers who were not interested in participating.