The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) published updated clinical practice guidelines extending the responsibility for discussion of infertility and referral for fertility preservation beyond the medical oncologist, to explicitly include other physician specialties and Allied Healthcare Professionals (AHPs) in the oncology care setting. However, it is critical to consider that reproductive health for AYA cancer patients extends beyond infertility and fertility preservation to include several other related interrelated components of physical and social functioning. AHPs may be particularly well suited to the role of discussing reproductive health with AYA given some aspects of their training (e.g., psychosocial counseling, coordination of services, health education) facilitate these discussions with patients. Importantly, AHPs need a general understanding of the potential impact of cancer diagnosis and/or treatment on AYA patients' reproductive health including physical functioning (reproductive capacity, fertility preservation options, contraception needs) and social functioning (body image, sexuality, friendships and romantic partnering). They must also have the skills to communicate about these issues and identify and facilitate referrals for additional services. Yet, few proven, evidenced based training approaches have demonstrated improvements in AHPs' knowledge, skills, and behaviors specific to reproductive health for AYA patients. This team's prior work in the Educating Nurses about Reproductive Issues in Cancer Health (ENRICH) program for oncology nurses is an effective curriculum that has short and intermediate term impacts on knowledge, perceived confidence, and behaviors. However, the focus of content and training to date has been primarily on infertility and fertility preservation. The proposed renewal application seeks to expand and extend the original ENRICH program. The currently proposed Enriching Communication skills for Health professionals in Oncofertility (ECHO) Program aims are to: (1) train 360 AHP (nurses, social workers, psychologists, and physician assistants) over a 5 year period (2) refine and implement the ECHO program to facilitate knowledge about and skills to address reproductive health needs of AYA oncology patients via a web based learning community; (3) evaluate the impact of the program at the participant (e.g., knowledge, practice behavior) and workplace level (e.g., policies, referral systems); and (4) develop a network of trained AHPs to share experiences, resources, and dissemination of the program and content.
The goals of this training program are to develop a national group of trained oncology allied health care professionals (AHPs) who are able to address the unique reproductive health issues faced by Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) oncology patients through improved knowledge and communication skills.
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