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Blue Ribbon Kit to Improve Patient Education

The Blue Ribbon Kit for colorectal cancer patients will provide Nova Scotians who are diagnosed with the disease with better information at the time of their diagnosis. The need for this resource was identified by cancer survivors during the development of the rectal cancer treatment standards.

“Patients and survivors indicated that the kind and amount of information they received when they were diagnosed with colorectal cancer varied depending on their health care provider and where they received treatment,” said Meg McCallum, Provincial Manager, Education and Patient Navigation. “CCNS established the Colorectal Cancer Patient Education Working Group to develop an information resource to be provided to every colorectal cancer patient at the time of diagnosis.”

The working group included patient advisors, educators, surgeons, patient navigators, radiation therapists, enterostomal therapists, nurses, dietitians, and CCNS staff. They began by conducting a literature search to understand the information needs of colorectal cancer patients; 25 topic areas were identified. Next, they searched for existing Canadian patient education resources to meet these needs. Forty-six resources were reviewed and rated using CCNS patient education standards and guidelines, and seven of these were selected. Two topic areas, lower anterior resection syndrome and hereditary colorectal cancer, were not well addressed in existing resources so the group worked with health professionals and patient advisors to develop new resources for these topics.

The Blue Ribbon Kit includes a letter from cancer survivors, highlighting the 10 things they wished they had known at the time of diagnosis, resources from Colorectal Cancer Canada and the Canadian Cancer Society, nutrition guidelines, and a list of reputable web-based resources.

In March, Nova Scotian surgeons and endoscopists who diagnose colorectal cancer will receive Blue Ribbon kits to give to their patients at the time of diagnosis. Surgeons will also be referring patients to Cancer Patient Navigators for support with and coordination of care, psychosocial concerns, and education.

The Blue Ribbon Kit is one small example of the benefits of engaging cancer patients and survivors to improve the cancer system.

“Serving on the Colorectal Cancer Patient Education Working Group gave us an opportunity to ensure future patients don’t encounter some of the challenges we experienced during our own treatment…” said patient advisors Debbie MacIntyre and Robin McGee. “We believe that having survivors involved has resulted in a stronger, more user friendly resource.”

“The Blue Ribbon Kit will be evaluated and information packages for other kinds of cancer will be developed, based on the evaluation results.

In addition to the Blue Ribbon kit, CCNS has also created a general information kit, which is distributed by Cancer Patient Navigators. The information is also available in the Patient Education section of our website.


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