Increasing Nurses’ Confidence and Frequency of Patient Education

A poster presented during the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) Congress reviewed an intervention aimed at increasing oncology patient education and increasing confidence among nurses.

“Nurses recognize that teaching and patient education are a significant component of the nursing process, yet most nursing degree programs lack specific preparation on teaching, including how to identify sources at appropriate health literacy levels for patients,” said Jennifer L. Polo, BSN, RN, OCN, who presented the poster. Several factors affect nurses’ teaching ability, she added, including competence levels, a lack of confidence, and resource limitations. “Without identified sources, nurses may not be aware or have access to educational materials that are appropriate for their patients, and oncology inpatient units may not have structured education for their nurses on patient education topics. Instead, nurses may rely on their own general understanding that may be incomplete for not up to date.”

Nurses were asked to complete a pre- and post-intervention survey in which they ranked their confidence in 14 topics on a five-point Likert scale (1 = not at all confident, 5 = very confident), as well as the frequency of patient education (1 = never, 5 = very frequently). Educational materials on surveyed topics were collected from OncoLink and HUP Intranet and placed on the wall of a main unit hallway, and nurses received related email notifications and were made aware of the education in shift change huddles. The post-intervention survey was completed three months later.

Across all topics, confidence increased by an average of 7% after the intervention, and educational frequency increased by 6%. The topics where respondents were least confident and least frequently educated were immunotherapy, oncology support service, radiation skin care, oncology patients and exercise, and tumor lysis, which increased between 11% and 18% and 6% and 17%, respectively, post-intervention. There was also a 10% increase in nurses’ independent OncoLink use for educational materials. About two-thirds of nurses used the educational materials.

Overall, the average confidence pre-intervention was 3.72, and increased to 4.01 post-intervention. The average educational frequency increased from 3.58 pre-intervention to 3.77 post-intervention.