BACKGROUND: Because of cancer survivors' increased need for help and support, cancer rehabilitation should be an essential part of cancer treatment, where focusing on patients' individual needs is essential.
OBJECTIVE: To provide an overview of existing evidence about nurses' roles and participation in cancer rehabilitation, based on both nurses' and patients' perspectives.
METHODS: A systematic search was conducted in PubMed, CINAHL, EMBASE and Cochrane databases for studies published from January 2001-January 2022. Whittemore and Knafl's methodology for data extraction and synthesis was used, and PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses) guidelines were followed. The review was registered in PROSPERO (CRD42021223683).
RESULTS: Ten qualitative studies and 7 quantitative studies were included, encompassing 306 patients and 1847 clinicians (1164 nurses). Three nursing roles emerged: (1) relationship-forming, in which nurses described ongoing involvement in patients' rehabilitation and patients described nurses as trusted partners; (2) coordinating, in which nurses described a lack of time and resources and a focus on medical treatment, and patients described nurses as expert coordinators; and (3) follow-up, in which patients described nurses as good communicators and trusted partners in their follow-up, and nurses described their natural interest in patients' rehabilitation outcomes during follow-up.
CONCLUSIONS: Patients were comfortable with nurses as trusted partners during cancer rehabilitation. Significant barriers such as lack of time, resources, and education about rehabilitation may negatively influence rehabilitation planning, implementation, and monitoring.
IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: Clinicians can use the findings to improve cancer rehabilitation with the nurse as a central provider and conduct further research on the coordinating and follow-up roles.