Nurse led follow up and conventional medical follow up in management of patients with lung cancer: randomised trial

BMJ 2002; 325 doi: (Published 16 November 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;325:1145
  1. Sally Moore, research practitionera,
  2. Jessica Corner, professor of cancer and palliative care (j.l.corner{at},
  3. Jo Haviland, statisticiana,
  4. Mary Wells, research practitionera,
  5. Emma Salmon, statisticianc,
  6. Charles Normand, professor of health economicsd,
  7. Mike Brada, reader and consultant in clinical oncologye,
  8. Ian Smith, professor of medical oncologye
  1. aCentre for Cancer and Palliative Care Studies, Institute of Cancer Research, Royal Marsden Hospital, London SW3 6JJ
  2. bSchool of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Southampton, Southampton SO17 1BJ
  3. cClinical Trials and Statistics Unit, Section of Epidemiology, Institute of Cancer Research, Sutton, Surrey SM2 5NG
  4. dDepartment of Epidemiology and Public Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London WC1A 7HT
  5. eRoyal Marsden Hospital, Sutton, Surrey SM2 5PT
  1. Correspondence to: J Corner
  • Accepted 20 June 2002


Objective: To assess the effectiveness of nurse led follow up in the management of patients with lung cancer.

Design:Randomised controlled trial.

Setting:Specialist cancer hospital and three cancer units in southeastern England

Participants: 203 patients with lung cancer who had completed their initial treatment and were expected to survive for at least 3 months.

Intervention: Nurse led follow up of outpatients compared with conventional medical follow up.

Outcome measures: Quality of life, patients' satisfaction, general practitioners' satisfaction, survival, symptom-free survival, progression-free survival, use of resources, and comparison of costs.

Results: Patient acceptability of nurse led follow up was high: 75% (203/271) of eligible patients consented to participate. Patients who received the intervention had less severe dyspnoea at 3 months (P=0.03) and had better scores for emotional functioning (P=0.03) and less peripheral neuropathy (P=0.05) at 12 months. Intervention group patients scored significantly better in most satisfaction subscales at 3, 6, and 12 months (P<0.01 for all subscales at 3 months). No significant differences in general practitioners' overall satisfaction were seen between the two groups. No differences were seen in survival or rates of objective progression, although nurses recorded progression of symptoms sooner than doctors (P=0.01). Intervention patients were more likely to die at home rather than in a hospital or hospice (P=0.04), attended fewer consultations with a hospital doctor during the first 3 months (P=0.004), had fewer radiographs during the first 6 months (P=0.04), and had more radiotherapy within the first 3 months (P=0.01). No other differences were seen between the two groups in terms of the use of resources.

Conclusion: Nurse led follow up was acceptable to lung cancer patients and general practitioners and led to positive outcomes.


  • Funding NHS Research and Development National Cancer Programme funded the study; Macmillan Cancer Relief funded one of the nurse specialists in lung cancer's posts.

  • Competing interests JC is a member of the board of trustees for Macmillan Cancer Relief.

  • Accepted 20 June 2002
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