Time to Stop Ringing the Bell? A Look at Patients’ Varied Reactions to the End-of-Treatment Tradition

A new study is suggesting that patients who celebrate the end of cancer treatment by ringing a bell may want to reconsider the practice. Researchers have found that patients who celebrated the end of cancer treatment by ringing a bell reported more distressful memories of treatment than those who finished without ringing a bell. 

Christopher R. Friese, Ph.Chemo BellD., RN, professor of Nursing, Health Management and Policy at the University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center in Ann Arbor, said patients have many divergent paths during their cancer treatment as some are cured and others require ongoing treatment, and this must be factored in at each institution. “I’ve had patients who were reluctant to ring the bell and others saddened that bell ringing may never happen for them. It’s time to retire the bell-ringing ceremony in oncology practices and replace it with the celebrations that best meet our individual patients’ needs. A better option might be a thank-you card to patients and families for putting their trust into our hands. That way, all patients and families can participate equally,” suggested Dr Friese.

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