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RECaN – Gathering evidence on the status of cancer nursing

Recognising European Cancer Nursing (RECaN) is a major project led by the European Oncology Nursing Society (EONS) and supported by the European Cancer Organisation.

The overall goal is to increase recognition of the value and contribution of cancer nursing across Europe – focusing on expert cancer nursing skills, research, education, clinical leadership, strategy and management roles, advocacy, and policy development.

Through the RECaN project, EONS and the European Cancer Organisation would like to see contemporary cancer nursing better recognised to ensure that:

  • Cancer nurses are core members of the multi-professional team
  • Cancer nursing should be a recognised speciality across Europe based on a mutually agreed educational curriculum
  • Education for specialist cancer nurses should be made available
  • Enhanced free movement of cancer nurses across Europe should be promoted and facilitated to help address rising demand.

This project is divided into three phases.

  • Phase 1: a systematic review of the impact of nursing on patient outcomes and experiences drawing on International evidence.
  • Phase 2: data gathering in four contrasting case study sites (countries) in Europe where nursing is at different stages of development.
  • Phase 3: engaging with the onco-policy community and sharing the findings from phases one and two; looking at how to promote nursing better in different political or health contexts within Europe.

This project involves the EONS board members and all four EONS working groups. The Research Working Group (RWG) was responsible for carrying out the first stage, the systematic review.

RECaN Progress and Outputs

Phase 1:

The RECaN systematic review protocol was published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing in July 2017. It is available to read online:

The first results paper of the systematic review was published in the International Journal of Nursing Studies in May 2018:

  • Charalambous, A., M. Wells, P. Campbell, C. Torrens, U. Östlund, W. Oldenmenger, E. Patiraki, L. Sharp, I. Nohavova, N. Domenech-Climent, M. Eicher, C. Farrell, M. Larsson, C. Olsson, M. Simpson, T. Wiseman and D. Kelly (2018). ‘A scoping review of trials of interventions led or delivered by cancer nurses.’ International Journal of Nursing Studies 86: 36-43. DOI:

Findings of Phase 1 have been presented:

Phase 2:

Data were collected from four countries: Estonia, Germany, Netherlands and UK. Data were collected with surveys, focus group discussions and individual interviews with managers, clinical staff and other stakeholders. Almost 400 questionnaires were returned, which provided valuable information on issues relating to safety, working conditions, recognition and management. Analyses of both qualitative and quantitative data are on-going.

Findings of Phase 2 have been presented:

Phase 3:

The results from Phases 1 & 2 were presented at a meeting of policymakers in the European Union in May 2018 with a view to changing and developing the way cancer nursing is regarded and improving the recognition of its status in the profession, in line with the goals outlined above. They were also presented at at conferences and events, including:

Mary Wells (2017) Recognising european cancer nursing (RECaN): a systematic review of trial evidence that helps to identify the roles and interventions of nurses caring for patients with cancer. ECCO 17, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Wendy H. Oldenmenger (2017) Recognising European Cancer Nursing (RECaN): een systematische literatuurstudie naar de veranderende rollen van oncologieverpleegkundigen. 36ste Oncologiedagen. V&VN Oncologie. The Netherlands.

Manuela Eicher, Mary Wells, Pauline Campbell on behalf of the ReCan Working Group (2017) Recognising the contribution and value of cancer nursing: results of the ReCaN Systematic Review, International Conference on Cancer Nursing, Anaheim, USA

Mary Wells (2017) Evidence of the impact of nursing interventions on patients with cancer: Results from a systematic review. ESMO 2017, Madrid, Spain.

Andreas Charalambous (2018) RECaN Project: Phase I. 33rd German Medical Conference, Berlin.

Andreas Charalambous (2017) RECaN Project. National Swedish Conference, Stockholm.

Daniel Kelly (2018) Recognising Cancer Nursing in Europe: Key Challenges and Opportunities. European Parliament.

Lena Sharp (2018) ReCAN Phase 2. European Parliament.

Patrick Crombez (2018) Future Challenges in Cancer Care. European Parliament.

Carole Farrell (2018) The first results of the RECaN project. ECCO summit.

Lena Sharp (2019) Recognising Cancer Nursing in Europe and Beyond. ONS.

Lena Sharp (2018) Recognising Cancer Nursing in Europe. Finnish Cancer Nursing Society.

Lena Sharp (2018) Recognising Cancer Nursing in Europe. National Cancer Nursing Conference, Antwerp, Belgium.

Lena Sharp & Manuela Eicher (2019) Recognising Cancer Nursing in Europe. Swiss Cancer Nursing Conference.

Lena Sharp (2018) Recognising Cancer Nursing in Europe. Danish Urology Nursing Society.

Lena Sharp (2018) Recognising Cancer Nursing in Europe. German Cancer Nursing Society, Berlin.

Lena Sharp (2019) Recognising Cancer Nursing in Europe. Spanish Cancer Nursing Society, Salamanca.

L. Sharp, M. Eicher (2019) Recognising the contribution and value of cancer nursing: results of the ReCaN project phase 1-3, Swiss Oncology Nursing Society annual conference, Berne, Switzerland.


The effectiveness of nurse-led interventions for cancer symptom management 2000–2018: A systematic review and meta-analysis, Health Sciences Review, Volume 4,100052
Kelly, D., Campbell, P., Torrens, C., Charalambous, A., Östlund, U., Eicher, M., Larsson, M., Nohavova, I., Olsson, C., Simpson, M., Patiraki, E., Sharp, L., Wiseman, T., Oldenmenger, W., Wells, M. (2022)

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