Challenges Faced by Pediatric Oncology Nurses; A Perspective from Low Middle-income Countries

Contributor: Ibrahim Shah

Every year, more than 160,000 children throughout the world are diagnosed with cancer, and around 90,000. The majority of these fatalities occur in developing and less developed nations (LMICs) (Day et al., 2015). One feature of care that is universally regarded as vital to all measures to increase the survival rate of children with cancer in LMICs is the necessity for trained pediatric oncology nurses. The work of nurses dramatically enhances the quality of life for pediatric cancer patients. They help the patient and their loved ones cope with the illness or injury, both physically and emotionally. They work closely with other medical staff to offer the best possible care. 

We are the oncology nurses. We are the one who makes differences. Source

The task of nurses caring for children with cancer is not without its difficulties. These obstacles make it harder for nurses to offer the best care for the children and their families, which can prolong hospital stays and cause extra anguish for the kids. According to a study by Wazqar (2019), the working environment for oncology nurses is highly demanding and stressful, and these nurses face several challenges in the course of their work; some examples of these difficulties include time-consuming care, low knowledge level, and work stress.

Cancer-stricken youngsters need nurses. Nurses provide children and their families with physical, emotional, and spiritual care at difficult times. Compassion and quality services provide this help. These caregivers regularly work overtime to care for cancer-afflicted children. Cancer nurses face time management challenges due to their specialty. Nurses spend a lot of time caring for children, which undermines their work-life balance and job satisfaction (Nukpezah et al., 2021).

Pediatric oncology nurses must educate patients and families about the disease, its therapies, and symptom management to form strong bonds (Nukpezah et al,2021). Low expertise limits their ability to provide high-quality care for youngsters. Nurses’ moods may improve with sufficient theoretical and clinical experience. Nurses can help children with cancer by offering information and support. Participation in continuing education helps oncology nurses develop (Adejumo et al., 2021). It’s also the nurse’s main tool for learning and retention.

Oncology nurses can use Nola Pender’s Health Promotion Model to help patients. It highlights five important health promotion elements, including health, self-efficacy, motivation, behavioral skills, and environmental factors, Oncology nurses can tailor treatments to assist patients adopt healthy lifestyles and cope with cancer by recognizing these aspects. Oncology nurses can help patients feel better by delivering accurate disease and treatment information. They can discuss cancer types, symptoms, and treatments. They can also advise patients on therapy side effects. Oncology nurses can empower patients to manage cancer by providing this information and assistance.

Nola Pender’s Health Promotion Model lets oncology nurses customize cancer care. This method helps nurses discover patient issues and find solutions. Oncology nurses help patients build self-confidence. They offer emotional, practical, and cancer-coping resources. They also assist patients set goals and celebrate successes. This care from oncology nurses helps patients manage their cancer and lives.

Pediatric cancer worries nurses. Work volume, sick children, and lack of support from coworkers and management can generate stress. Under stress, nurses may leave patients alone. Pediatric oncology nurses may become emotionally fatigued assessing patients, delivering chemotherapy, and caring for families due to resource shortages. Stress increases drug errors and patient care.Due to the field’s demands and high stress, nurses working with children cancer encounter many challenges. These issues would greatly improve young cancer patients’ care. In summary, LMIC children with cancer can only survive with better nursing care; the Health Promotion Model can guide the better care that is needed.


Adejumo, P. O., Akinyemi, K. F., Anarado, A. N., Ndikom, C. M., Beatrice, M., Okedare, O. O., Ani, O. B., & Oluwatosin, A. O. (2021). State of oncology nursing training and practice in a southwestern Nigerian teaching hospital. 11(9).

Day, S., Challinor, J., Abramovitz, L., & Hanaratri, Y. (2015). Paediatric Oncology Nursing Care In Low- And Middle- Income Countries : A Need For Baseline Standards. 12, 111–116.

Nukpezah, R. N., Fomani, F. K., Hasanpour, M., & Nasrabadi, A. N. (2021). A qualitative study of Ghanaian pediatric oncology nurses ’ care practice challenges. 1–10.

Wazqar, D. Y. (2019). Oncology nurses ’ perceptions of work stress and its sources in a university-teaching hospital : A qualitative study. November 2017, 100–108.

About Ibrahim Shah

I am Ibrahim Shah (Stud ID 582804) a full-time student of Master in Sciences of Nursing at Aga Khan University School of Nursing & Midwifery (AKU-SONAM) Karachi Pakistan. I hold a registered nurse license. In my profile, I have diverse experience in bedside nursing in the pediatric oncology ward, Clinical Nurse Coordinator, weekend shift supervisor. Currently I am working as a Research Associate in the Department of Pediatric and child health in the research project titled as “Integrating MRI Brain Imaging Studies to Learn the Neurodevelopmental Impact of Environment on The Early Life Years- A longitudinal cohort study in a low-income community” under the supervision of Dr. Sidra Kaleem funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

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