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Nurse wins recognition for research on pregnancy-related cancer

A nurse researching the impact of a rare pregnancy-related cancer on patients’ quality of life has won the best-ranked research paper at an international cancer conference.

Clinical nurse specialist Jane Ireson used her paper to highlight a web-based tool that gathers self-reported feedback from patients on how cancer treatments affect their health and wellbeing.

“I am delighted and honoured to receive this recognition”

Jane Ireson

The tool, which is now in routine use in Sheffield and being piloted across the UK, was found to positively benefit patients and helped nurses to engage with what mattered to women in their care.

Ms Ireson works at Weston Park Cancer Centre, one of only two specialist national gestational trophoblastic disease centres, which is run by Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

She is also the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) doctoral fellow and researcher in residence at the centre.

She received the distinguished title of best-ranked research paper at the European Oncology Nursing Society conference in Madrid in October.

Her abstract, titled Integrating an electronic Patient Reported Outcome Measure (ePROM) into a nurse-led rare cancer pathway, outlined work led by a team of nurses from Weston Park.

The work of the team led to an electronic patient reported outcome measure system to improve care for those with gestational trophoblastic disease – a rare complication of pregnancy that can present as, or turn into, cancer.

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The web-based tool, called ePAQ-GTD (electronic personal assessment questionnaire-GTD), was developed with patient input, using Sheffield’s electronic personal assessment questionnaire technology.

The tool was tailored to include self-reported feedback from patients on how cancer treatments affect their health and wellbeing, said Sheffield Teaching Hospitals.

This information covers a wide range of areas from physical symptoms, psychological impact, fertility, sexual function, self-image and activities of daily living, and is presented to nurses ahead of patient clinics in the form of a simple electronic summary.

Nurses can then use this information to prioritise health and wellbeing concerns that matter to patients in new virtual nurse-led clinics, noted the trust.

The research found that women were more likely to engage with ePAQ-GTD when there was perceived personal benefit, added the trust.

It highlighted that integrating the tool into routine care also had a positive effect on patients’ communication, wellbeing and engagement with clinical services.

In addition, the tool helped patients have important discussions with specialist gestational trophoblastic disease nurses about the ongoing impacts of the disease and its treatment.

This was particularly the case with taboo subjects such as sexual dysfunction and mental health, the researchers found.

Patients were asked to complete the questionnaire when referred, at the start and end of treatment, and at six weeks, six months and yearly following chemotherapy alongside their lab based follow up.

Speaking on her award for best-ranked research paper, Ms Ireson said: “I am delighted and honoured to receive this recognition.

“As one of only two specialist national gestational trophoblastic disease treatment centres in the UK, this accolade is an endorsement of how Sheffield is once again leading the way with innovative nursing-led research and patient-centred care that has the potential to impact on global cancer practice in gestational trophoblastic disease and other areas within oncology such as pelvic radiotherapy.”

Jane Ireson

Jane Ireson at the cancer conference

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