The Oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist: A Rapid Review of Implementation Models and Barriers around the World

Ori Kapra, Noam Asna, Mazal Amoyal, Osnat Bashkin, Keren Dopelt

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The role of a clinical nurse specialist in oncology varies greatly between healthcare systems, and implementing this healthcare role with its multifaceted and co-existing responsibilities may prove challenging. While already integrated into healthcare systems and services in several European countries, Asia, Canada, and the United States, other countries are just beginning to develop clinical nursing specialties. The current study aims to provide healthcare policymakers with up-to-date evidence that focuses on the diverse modes of oncology clinical nurse specialist role implementation across several healthcare systems and pertinent implementation challenges as described in the literature. A rapid evidence assessment was carried out in order to provide policymakers with a rigorous review in a condensed timescale. Initially, only items in the English language were included, and “grey literature” was excluded. We searched PubMed between 1 January 2022 and 28 February 2022 and two independent scholars reviewed items. Based on 64 papers, both non-scientific and papers that met the initial criteria of the rapid review, we describe the modes of implementation of the oncology clinical nurse specialist in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Japan, Brazil and Australia. Barriers to implementation include conflicts around role boundaries, skepticism and lack of organizational support, as well as fears that oncology clinical nurse specialists will “encroach” on doctors’ powers. In contrast, an oncology clinical nurse specialist is found to be universally more accessible to patients and their families and can help physicians deal with difficult workloads, among other advantages. Conclusions: This role offers a myriad of gains for cancer patients, oncology physicians, and the healthcare system. The literature demonstrates that it is a necessary role, albeit one that brings specific implementation challenges.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7425-7438
Number of pages14
JournalCurrent Oncology
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2023


  • advanced nurse practitioner
  • clinical nurse specialist
  • oncology
  • rapid review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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