A Day in the Life: Treating Patients Where and How They Live
When we talk about “meeting patients where they live” during the oncology journey, we don’t confine the definition to providing chemotherapy or oral oncolytic treatment at home. Engaging patients in their lived environment and giving them resources that meet the unique needs associated with their lifestyles (age, socioeconomic background, etc.) can help provide more intuitive care.
Studies from the aforementioned meta-analysis found age to be a dominant factor in adherence. Providing patients with age-appropriate, easily “digestible” information and resources about their medications and emotional-support content can help empower them and improve their overall outlook.
Another part of addressing the whole patient is getting to know them as people, including what they do, their family dynamics and their daily habits, to help them maintain their quality of life and personhood while in treatment. For example, as more and more patients try to navigate departure from and return to their careers on opposite sides of the oncology paradigm, they experience a wide range of emotional and logistical challenges that can negatively impact their outlook and subsequent treatment experience. Providing educational and emotionally supportive guidance about how they can more easily transition between these stressful situations can alleviate much of this burden. Familial and social support is another critical aspect of dealing with cancer. Patients have entire communities of friends and loved ones that may not know how to navigate their post-diagnosis interactions. Caregivers also face unique challenges as they transition into their new role. Data from the National Cancer Institute indicates that: