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Exploring the role of key workers in cancer care: Patient and staff perspectives.

Ling, Jonathan, McCabe, Karen, Brent, Sue, Crosland, Ann and Brierley-Jones, Lyn (2017) Exploring the role of key workers in cancer care: Patient and staff perspectives. Clinical Nurse Specialist, 31 (5). ISSN 0887-6274

Item Type: Article


Purpose/Aims: The key worker role in cancer services was established in England to improve the continuity of care for patients. We examined how the role has been implemented by clinical nurse specialists, and how both cancer patients and nursing staff viewed its effectiveness in order to inform debate about the transfer of patients between clinical nurse specialists during cancer care.
Design: This study was questionnaire-based, with separate surveys developed for patients and staff.
Method: Questionnaires explored issues including implementation of the key worker role, modifications to it, and where the role was felt to have most impact.
Questionnaires were completed by 101 staff and 46 patients. Data were analysed descriptively.
Results: Perspectives on the key worker role differed between nursing staff respondents and patient respondents. Overall, patient respondents were very positive while staff respondents were less so. A key difference related to patient handover: 71% of patient respondents wanted the same key worker throughout their treatment but only 28% of staff respondents did. Staff respondents wanted more training to clarify the role.
Conclusions: Continuity of care through an assigned key worker was highly valued by patients. Successful implementation could be better achieved through improved
communication with both nursing staff and allied health professions. Where possible, cancer patients should be assigned a dedicated key worker at initial diagnosis.

CNS 16-75_R2.pdf - Accepted Version
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Depositing User: Jonathan Ling


Item ID: 7009
Identification Number:
ISSN: 0887-6274
Official URL:

Users with ORCIDS

ORCID for Jonathan Ling: ORCID iD

Catalogue record

Date Deposited: 09 Mar 2017 14:40
Last Modified: 20 Jan 2023 10:09


Author: Jonathan Ling ORCID iD
Author: Karen McCabe
Author: Sue Brent
Author: Ann Crosland
Author: Lyn Brierley-Jones

University Divisions

Faculty of Health Sciences and Wellbeing


Social Sciences > Health and Social Care

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