Review Article| Volume 62, 102257, February 2023

Dynamics and processes influencing role integration of advanced practice nurses and nurse navigators in oncology teams

Published:December 20, 2022DOI:


      • ONN and APN experience a lonely journey during the integration and execution of their functions
      • There is a constant search for partners, (medical) knowledge and acknowledgement from the interprofessional team and patients
      • This search is driven by 3 contextual factors: role ambiguity, team environment and presence/absence of coaching and guidance
      • Knowledge of expert nursing roles in healthcare professionals and healthcare managers is needed to improve role integration



      Exploring the persisting presence of underlying processes, dynamics, experienced barriers and facilitators of Advanced Practice Nurses (APN) in oncology and Oncology Nurse Navigators (ONN) during their role integration in an interprofessional team over a research period of seven years.


      A qualitative study based on the principles of Grounded Theory, in which individual semi-structured interviews and focus groups were conducted with 51 ONN and APN from 11 university and local hospitals in Belgium between 2011-2018. Data were analyzed to develop a framework that consists of different themes.


      ONN and APN experienced a lonely journey during role integration. They were searching for partners, medical knowledge and acknowledgement from the interprofessional team. ONN and APN had a watchful attitude and tried to make themselves visible to ensure they were involved in the team and to preserve their role and responsibilities. An unclear role description to the interprofessional team, and a lack of coaching and guidance were influencing factors in the experience of ONN and APN.


      ONN and APN in oncology feel difficulties to integrate their role in existing interprofessional teams. A lack of role clarity, the interprofessional team environment and a desire for coaching and guidance are influencing factors to implement APN roles. Coaching and mentorship of novice ONN/APN and their interprofessional team and healthcare managers are needed to address these issues. These findings could form the basis for a mentorship program for ONN/APN and their interprofessional team to enhance role integration.


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