Evaluating a professional patient navigation intervention in a supportive care setting

  • Aleksandra Berezowska
  • Ellen Passchier
  • Eveline Bleiker
Original Article



Unmet supportive care needs are common among cancer patients. This study evaluates a patient navigation intervention (i.e., specially trained oncology nurse who monitors, advises, and (if needed) refers patients to supportive cancer care) in terms of need, satisfaction, advice uptake, and consumption of supportive cancer care.


Using a cross-sectional design, the intervention was evaluated among healthcare professionals, patients who participated, and patients who did not participate in the intervention. All patients were newly diagnosed with breast cancer or melanoma. Data was collected through medical records and online surveys.


In total, 1091 patients were offered patient navigation. Most of these patients (755) were willing to consult the patient navigator (PN). Approximately 90% of patients who completed both the intervention and the questionnaire (N = 120, response rate 54%) perceived the PN as valuable, accessible, and reliable. Approximately 80% of respondents who needed advice regarding nutrition (n = 67), fatigue (n = 98), emotions (n = 106), and work (n = 79) were adequately informed by the PN. Of the 120 respondents, 59 used some form of supportive cancer care. Most of the responding healthcare professionals (N = 70, response rate 45%) perceived the intervention as a valuable addition to current cancer care (n = 51) and mentioned that the PN should be available to all patients (n = 54).


The intervention was perceived as valuable by both patients and healthcare professionals. The results may, however, been biased by the large number of patients who were omitted from participation due to logistical reasons.


Patient navigation Unmet needs Supportive care Cancer 



We would like to thank the patient navigators Marit van de Water, Anke van der Pol, and Nanda Wiegman for carrying out the intervention activities. Our thanks also goes to Stichting OOK, which contributed to the intervention in an intellectual way.


This project was funded by the Netherlands Cancer Institute.

Compliance with ethical standards

Permission for data collection was granted by the Medical Ethical Committee of the Netherlands Cancer Institute (registered: METC18.1633). Since the study concerned evaluation of existing healthcare, it did not fall under the Medical Research Involving Human Subjects Act (Wet Medisch Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek). Hence, obtaining informed consent was not required.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aleksandra Berezowska
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ellen Passchier
    • 1
  • Eveline Bleiker
    • 2
  1. 1.Center for Quality of LifeNetherlands Cancer InstituteAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Division of Psychosocial Research and EpidemiologyNetherlands Cancer InstituteAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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