Betty Ferrell, RN, PhD, MA, FAAN, FPCN, CHPN has been in nursing for 40 years and has focused her clinical expertise and research in pain management, quality of life, and palliative care. Dr. Ferrell is the Director of Nursing Research & Education and a Professor at the City of Hope Medical Center in Duarte, California. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing and she has over 400 publications in peer-reviewed journals and texts. She is Principal Investigator of a Research Project funded by the National Cancer Institute on “Palliative Care for Patients with Solid Tumors on Phase 1 Clinical Trials” and Principal Investigator of the “End-of-Life Nursing Education Consortium (ELNEC)” project. She directs several other funded projects related to palliative care in cancer centers and QOL issues. Dr. Ferrell was Co-Chairperson of the National Consensus Project for Quality Palliative Care. Dr. Ferrell completed a Masters degree in Theology, Ethics and Culture from Claremont Graduate University in 2007. She has authored eleven books including the Oxford Textbook of Palliative Nursing published by Oxford University Press (4th edition published in 2015). She is co-author of the text, The Nature of Suffering and the Goals of Nursing published in 2008 by Oxford University Press and Making Health Care Whole: Integrating Spirituality into Patient Care (Templeton Press, 2010). In 2013 Dr. Ferrell was named one of the 30 Visionaries in the field by the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine.
Questions and Answers
What aspects of the program can be adapted without it losing its effectiveness? Are there specific audiences (beyond those included in the research study) that you feel this program could be adapted for?
The content of the program can be adapted to meet the needs of other cancer patients beyond the lung cancer population. We are now using it with very little change in studies involving patients across all solid tumors.
What do you view as the facilitators to implementation? What might be some challenges?
In terms of facilitators, it is helpful to have oncology nurses involved in the patient teaching who are familiar with quality of life concerns and symptom management. The primary challenge we have faced (including in a current NINR funded study disseminating this tested intervention into community settings) is the lack of time for the very busy clinicians. However with the extensive patient and family caregiver written materials, the time required for the clinician teaching can be made efficient.
Do you have suggestions for questions that practitioners should include when they evaluate the adaptation/implementation of your program? Do you have specific evaluation tools that would be appropriate for practitioners when they evaluate this program
We have used standard clinical tools to assess QOL and symptom concerns as well as other outcomes such as psychological distress, spirituality, caregiver burden and other constructs. For busy practitioners I think it is sufficient to use some of the more practical and shorter QOL or symptom tools to assess outcomes. Many settings do have symptom or QOL tools incorporated in their practice which can also be used to assess outcomes of this intervention.
What is your current research focused on?
I am continuing my research in this area of supporting patients and family caregivers. We have a RO1 funded by NCI which we are doing in conjunction with Johns Hopkins Cancer Center which is applying this intervention in patients with solid tumors who are enrolling in Phase 1 clinical trials. We also have a NINR funded study taking this intervention into 3 large community Kaiser hospitals in Southern California.