Importance of the minimum data set in cancer nursing

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Published: 3 Oct 2013
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Alessandra Milani - European Institute of Oncology, Milan, Italy

Founding editor, Prof Gordon McVie, talks with Alessandra Milani at the 2013 European Cancer Cogress in Amsterdam about the importance of minimum data sets in order to ensure personalised nursing care.

Read her article published in ecancermedicalscience

ECC 2013

Importance of the minimum data set in cancer nursing

Alessandra Milani - European Institute of Oncology, Milan, Italy



Alessandra, you are the top research nurse in the European Institute of Oncology and you recently submitted a very lovely paper to ecancer Medical Science. What is a minimum data set?


A minimum data set is minimum information with a uniform definition of essential data which are adopted on a regular basis by the majority of nurses.


And what do nurses use it for? Why do they need a minimum data set?


Nurses need a guide to ensure a systematic collection of nursing data and documentation. In oncology nursing it is very important because we need a guide to ensure also tailored nursing care.


And how did you go about making the minimum data set?


We created a nursing working group composed of twenty experienced nurses representing the surgical, critical and medical areas. They received an educational course about nursing minimum data sets and nursing sensitive outcomes and after it they shared their clinical experience to individualise which are the most common and frequent nursing sensitive outcomes in cancer patients regardless of the treatment patients undergo.


And then you talked to other specialists as well?


Yes, we shared it with psychologists, dieticians, physicians and physiotherapists obtaining a consensus of it.


And this is the first time it’s ever been done. There has been an American nursing data set for twenty years or thirty years or so but not an oncology one.


No, in oncology it’s the first time specific for oncology nursing and overall a specific nursing minimum data set based on nursing sensitive outcomes. We identified 49 prevalent outcomes which are the most frequent and common in cancer patients.


So now you’re going to validate it.


Yes, we performed a pre/post study test analysing 50 nursing records before and after the introduction of these new instruments and we achieved satisfaction of the Joint Commission of Nursing Standards.


Good. So how would you measure this in terms of patient appreciation of the nursing care?


We are at the beginning of the test but we saw in these years that we had an increase of, for example, psychologist cancelled requests, not due because patients are better than before but probably because we have a systematic collection of all data. So we have a possibility of nursing comparison, peer comparison, and when we have a set of prevalent outcomes we can monitor them also as a potential risk, not only as developed outcomes.


So are you going to roll this out from the European Institute of Oncology to the rest of Europe or what’s the plan? The European Oncology Nursing Society?


I’ll discuss this project at the anniversary event of the European Oncology Nursing Society next April in London so I hope that it could be tested in all Europe because it could become an important database for epidemiological research, quality research, quantitative research, so I think so.


And important for the European cancer patient too.




Well done Alessandra, thank you very much indeed.


Thank you.