Essential in Fight Against Cancer
Laurie McGroarty, RN, BSN, CCM
Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin Case Manager,
Hematology Oncology and Blood and Marrow Transplant Unit
For people battling cancer, medical care is not enough. Laurie McGroarty, RN, BSN, CCM, a Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin Cancer Center case manager, says support from family members and other caregivers is irreplaceable.
Q. Is there any research on the importance of "support systems"?
One study looked at "self-efficacy" for cancer patients. For the patient, self-efficacy is described as the ability to manage the demands of their illness; for the family caregiver, it refers to confidence in the ability to provide care. The study showed that greater self-efficacy is associated with better treatment outcomes for patients with health-threatening conditions.
Q. Would you say "self-efficacy" can be bolstered by strong support systems?
Q. What cancer support services are available at Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin?
In addition to nurse practitioners and physician assistants, we have social workers on inpatient and the outpatient sides. We also have a registered dietitian and physical therapists who work specifically with cancer patients – plus a nationally-recognized palliative care team.
Q. What role does the family play in patient support?
Most of our patients have very involved families, and those families need to be engaged because of all the patient's psychosocial and physical needs.
Family members often have to get involved with medications and learn how to give injections. Frequently, they need to learn how to do physical therapy exercises and manage special diets. Besides all that, you've got transportation to doctor appointments and treatments. Plus, sometimes the family member provides the primary psychological support.
Occasionally, we get a patient without much family support, and that makes it very difficult to come up with an appropriate discharge plan. We recognize the family as part of the caregiving team.