Acute Leukemia Class Significantly Increases Caregiver Knowledge

Patient education plays a significant role in oncology nursing, and this extends to patients’ caregivers, as well. A poster presented during the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) Congress evaluated the development and implementation of an educational intervention for caregivers for patients with acute leukemia (AL).

The class was created with interdisciplinary team input, with the goal of providing consistent education that would ultimately make for safer patient discharge. The intervention was designed to be an in-person class where caregivers could interact with nurse educators. Important topics to cover included an overview of AL, complete blood count, general chemotherapy side effects/precautions, procedures, and the structure of the AL team.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, monthly in-person classes were led by staff registered nurses. Patients were given an AL education binder that provided patient education handouts. When the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the hospital to disallow visitors, the classes became even more important. At-home education was provided in the form of a PowerPoint with a recorded voiceover, which caregivers received via email. Caregivers were also sent AL binders. Caregivers were asked to complete pre- and post-education surveys, which asked them to rank their understanding of certain topics on a five-point Likert scale.

Comments on the education program from caregivers include:

  • “Thank you for helping us learn!”
  • “Looking forward to receiving the binder of information in more detail.”
  • “Thank you so much!!”
  • “I have been reading a lot trying to understand more about AML.”
  • “Thank you for everything you guys do. You are all very special people in my book.”

Twenty-six caregivers completed the pre-video survey, and 17 completed the post-video survey. Significant increases were seen in understanding of all six topics including AL, nutrition, side effects of treatment, procedures related to AL, and more.

“AL is such an overwhelming and fast-paced disease from diagnosis to treatment that education is key. This caregiver education class, in person or virtually, is an essential piece to informed care. If patients and caregivers are provided tools to increase their knowledge, they will feel empowered and involved in their personal plan of care,” said Sarah Bender, MS, MBA, APRN-CNP, who presented the poster.