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Top 3 Takeaways from September’s Facebook Live Event: “Distress Screening and the Role of the Navigator”

September 29, 2020 | AONN+ Blog | Distress Screening

On Wednesday, September 2, AONN+ Program Director Sharon Gentry moderated the session by Danelle Johnston and Tricia Strusowski. The hour-long presentation looked at the common distressors patients experience when diagnosed with cancer, the way distressors are exhibited by patients, best practices for working with patients experiencing distress, and the role of the navigator in assessing and navigating the patient with distress.

Many questions came in from the audience during the conversation, and this afforded presenters an opportunity to suggest a number of best practices that can be put in place as oncology navigators reevaluate their own facilities’ programs and think about how to improve workflow and patient experience.

Here’s a quick recap of the top 3 takeaways from the discussion.

Early Intervention: In compliance with CoC guidelines, oncology navigators perform a distress screening on all of their patients with cancer. The presenters strongly suggest that the screening be performed early in the patient’s journey. Early intervention is key to managing stress and appropriate interventions, and the earlier the distress screening can be performed, the better. Addressing problems before they become unmanageable and before patients’ anxiety increases are key to optimal care and good outcomes.

Work as a Team and Adopt an Interdisciplinary Approach: To perform the “dance” of navigation well, the members of the multidisciplinary team must learn to recognize and utilize the strengths of everyone on the team. Social workers, financial counselors, and nurse navigators all have different skills and approaches to their work with patients. A well-functioning team benefits from the combined insights of all team members and gives each member the room to perform their assigned role.

Use a Validated Tool: Different metrics approaches and tools were discussed with an emphasis on using an externally validated metric. This is a very important aspect of evaluating distressors, as a validated tool is the best way to obtain data that reliably measures what it purports to measure and ensures consistency.

Distress assessment is a critical component of patient-centered cancer care, and oncology nurse and patient navigators are instrumental in mitigating the many barriers and distressors that patients with cancer encounter. This session offered many insights and strategies for the most effective practice.


Join the conversation during our next Navigate Now: How Can We Help? Facebook Live event on the State of the 11th Annual AONN+ National Conference, Wednesday, October 7, 2020, 1:00pm – 2:15pm ET.

View the full schedule for this monthly series and submit your questions to the panelists in advance.

Missed an event from the series? You can watch it any time on our Facebook page!

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