In the past decade, the field of oncology has undergone a marked shift in patient education and marketing.
With more therapies available than ever before and greater patient involvement in treatment decisions, oncology nurse navigators face the perennial challenge of providing high-quality patient and caregiver education in reader-friendly language.
Enter CONQUER: the patient voice. Published by The Lynx Group as the official publication of The Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators (AONN+), this patient-facing magazine was launched in February 2015 to fill an unmet need for AONN+’s oncology nurse navigators.
“At AONN+ meetings, oncology nurse navigators requested more resources developed for the average patient,” explains Russell Hennessy, Group Publisher for The Lynx Group. “Something they could hand to patients on a regular basis that would provide information on everything from specific disease states to information on finances, nutrition, psychosocial stress, and everything that comes with managing cancer.”
At the magazine’s inception, the editorial team made a key circulation decision, one that would separate it from most patient publications. Because it was designed with patients and nurse navigators in mind, CONQUER is hand-delivered to patients by the thousands of oncology nurse navigators that make up AONN+.
“Each member requests a specific number of copies based on how many patients they work with on a monthly basis, and we send the magazine directly to them to hand out to their patients,” explains Hennessy. “Patients and family members can also request CONQUER to be mailed directly to them, free of charge.”
Inside the Pages of CONQUER Magazine
Each issue of CONQUER features standing sections on several disease states, organized by cancer type. The diseases rotate from issue to issue, and content is written by and for patients, survivors, nurse navigators, and other oncology team members.
Naturally, Hennessy says, most readers open the magazine and jump right to the section on the disease state that relates to them or to their loved one. “Disease state sections are the number-one read category in the magazine, followed by patient stories.”
Dalia Buffery, MA, ABD, Senior Editorial Director for CONQUER magazine, notes that the editorial often coincides with awareness months, but this is not a top priority for the magazine. After all, cancer has a year-round impact on patients.
“We’re always trying to cover areas we have not yet covered,” she explains. “We can’t cover everything in each issue—there are just too many types of cancer. But we do try to divide the topics between the regular issues. We’ve also released special issues that are focused on specific disease states or treatment, from breast cancer to lung cancer to immunotherapy.”
The goal, Hennessy explains, has always been to go deeper while providing information on the full scope of topics. “In each issue of CONQUER, you’ll find clinical information, terminology, resources on advocacy organizations and financial assistance, nutritional advice, and more,” he says.
A typical CONQUER article, according to Buffery, is one that conveys practice, patient-focused, evidence-based information that is useful to the magazine’s readership.
“Whether it’s a discussion of tumor types, or new or recently approved therapies, or testing modalities, we’re always trying to cover factual information in a timely manner,” she says. “We don’t report hearsay or things that are trending in online communities that may lack scientific, factual backing.”
Patient stories also feature prominently within the magazine. Most patient stories are submitted by readers, but CONQUER’s editorial team also interviews individuals who have a story to share and are unable to write it themselves.
“CONQUER presents a different experience for each reader, depending on what the reader’s needs are,” Buffery explains. “The patient stories, in particular, always have some aspects that people can relate to in one way or another. There’s something for patients, family members, caregivers, and members of the cancer care team in every issue.”
Writing for Patients
Because cancer is often the biggest challenge or stressor that readers will face in their lives, the magazine is tailored to their unique needs.
The articles use patient-first language that is sensitive to how terminology used in the cancer community and beyond can affect patients. The language is also accessible—written at about a seventh grade reading level—so that it can be read and understood by as many readers as possible.
“Articulating scientific information to readers is a challenge,” Hennessy says. “The editorial team has done an outstanding job of taking scientific information that’s tough to understand if you’re not in this industry and translating it into language that the average person can understand—without dumbing it down.”
The layout and design also factor in readers’ needs. The text uses a more reader-friendly font and spacing than what readers will find in most magazines on the racks today. “The accessibility of CONQUER is really one of its differentiating factors,” Hennessy says.
On the Horizon for CONQUER Magazine
Oncology is moving at “lightning speed,” according to Hennessy. That’s why CONQUER will provide deeper resources on specific disease states beginning in 2020. “The normal 12 issues of the magazine will be the same—we’re just adding on these additional resources,” he explains.
This additional content will also create more targeted opportunities for the pharmaceutical and biotech companies whose advertisements subsidize the publication of CONQUER magazine.
Hennessy also hopes in 2020 to share more web-exclusive content and videos. “We’re committed in the short- and the long-term to growing the digital side of CONQUER by providing relevant, up-to-date content, videos, and patient stories on the website and social media.”
Buffery adds that in the future, she hopes to publish more materials from oncology nurse navigators. “Because of their direct experience with patients, we hope to have more direct contributions from them,” she says. “We’d love to feature discussions on the psychological and emotional difficulties related to cancer, on cost issues, and other topics related to navigating patients with cancer.”
CONQUER by the Numbers
- Years in Publication: 5
- Circulation: 145,000 copies
- Readership: Over 1 million people
- Regular Issues Published per Year: 6
- Special Issues Published per Year: 6