Research nurse shares skin cancer lessons

01 March 2013

A QEHB research nurse looking at how patients coped with the diagnosis of skin cancer will speak at the Royal College of Nursing International Conference in Belfast later this year.

Josephine Marange will present her NIHR-funded research into the psychosocial elements of a patient’s treatment, and how they affected outcomes.

Josie Marange

Research Nurse Josie Marange

Her research found that outcomes were affected by how the original diagnosis of skin cancer was communicated, and that patients developed important coping mechanisms almost immediately.

“The main thing that came out was the way the patient was told of the diagnosis; it had a big impact on their psychosocial life,” she says.

“It was positive in the long term if the consultant was there, and there were also positive impacts from strong support from family. Patients also said they greatly appreciated the support they received from the Macmillan Clinical Nurse Specialists.

“But these patients also all adjusted their lives, with some putting off holidays because they didn’t want to be exposed to the sun.”

The study included patients aged between 20 and 62, all diagnosed with stage I or II melanoma, and found that uncertainty about the future was a key concern: “Since the diagnosis all participants started practising risk reduction behaviour and regular self-skin examination.

“Many found the thought of living with the uncertainty of recurrence distressing.”

Sr Marange’s interest in the subject  has been developed over her nursing career, since she finished her nurse training in 2004. After first working on acute wards she then worked in oncology.

She now works at QEHB as a Cancer Research Nurse, and carried out the research alongside Principle Investigator Dr Jerry Marsden, one of the country’s leading melanoma experts.

“I wanted to look at their experiences because skin cancer is not something well known. When I got the opportunity to study for a master’s degree, this was what I decided to look into”

Rachel Hornabrook, Lead Research Nurse Manager, says this sort of qualitative funded research is a vital part of the professional development of research nurses as well as helping towards new treatments and approaches to all kinds of conditions.

“Josie has done important research which should influence how we approach the difficult area of working with patients who have just received difficult news about a diagnosis,” she says.

“Our research nurses are central to the work we do here at the Trust, contributing their unique skills and experience to running important studies.

“We’re very proud that Josie’s work has been recognised by the RCN, and it is an example of the excellence across the research nursing team.”

Sr Marange will present her research at the event, which is being held at the Europa Hotel in Belfast from 20-22 March.