Finding evidence to verify what nurses already know from their everyday experience is the topic of an Idaho State University nursing professor's new study.
Mary Anne Reynolds' one-year descriptive study on palliative care was funded by the American Nurses Foundation for $5,000. Palliative care is the specialized medical treatment for people with limiting and potentially life-ending illnesses.
"Palliative Care Needs of Young and Middle Age Adults (20-59) with a Potentially Life Limiting Cancer Diagnosis: A Pilot Study," is the title of Reynolds' grant. She said nurses see recurring patterns in palliative care for this population, but there is a lack of evidence-based research that describes those needs. Her study of 25 oncology patients in Pocatello and Idaho Falls is intended to provide that evidence.
Reynolds said resources and literature about cancer are abundant for children and the elderly. Young and middle-aged people with life-limiting cancers have specific needs, Reynolds said, but "there is nothing to validate what those are."
For a young or middle-aged person "at the peak of their physical and cognitive abilities," the diagnosis of cancer and demanding physical treatments can bring about a sense of isolation, can interrupt family and work commitments and can challenge available resources. During six months of data collection, Reynolds intends to describe these observations to the nursing world, which she described as an "evidence-based practice." By publishing her results in nursing journals, Reynolds could pave the way for new care models to be put into place for young and middle-aged cancer patients.
Reynolds' hopes to expand her research to 75 patients soon by submitting a grant to the Oncology Nursing Society Foundation. This would allow her to include patients from Boise, Meridian and Twin Falls.
The American Nursing Foundation grant provides funding for a research assistant but Reynolds said she plans to do most of the work herself as the primary investigator. The small size of the study lends itself well to her plans. Institute of Rural Health researcher Cyndy Kelchner aided Reynolds in her grant proposal.
For more information about the palliative care grant, contact Mary Anne Reynolds at firstname.lastname@example.org.