Nursing

PV QA 4 - Poster Viewing Q&A 4

TU_39_3706 - Knowledge of Palliative Radiation Therapy Amongst Oncology and Palliative Care Nurses

Tuesday, October 23
2:45 PM - 4:15 PM
Location: Innovation Hub, Exhibit Hall 3

Knowledge of Palliative Radiation Therapy Amongst Oncology and Palliative Care Nurses
K. Hayden1,2, and M. Connolly1; 1UCD, Dublin, Ireland, 2Our Lady's Hospice & Care Services, Dublin, Ireland

Purpose/Objective(s): The role of palliative radiotherapy is to improve the quality of life for patients with advanced cancer, who are symptomatic of their disease. Although most commonly used to treat pain, palliative radiotherapy can also be a useful treatment modality for the management of other distressing symptoms caused by tumour invasion. Bleeding from local tumour or distant sites, neurological dysfunction and shortness of breath can often be alleviated by the administration of hypofractionated doses of radiation treatment following consultation with a radiation specialist. Despite this, palliative radiotherapy continues to be underutilised and is frequently offered too late in the disease trajectory to see the benefits associated with its intent. Previous studies undertaken to examine patterns of patient referrals to palliative radiotherapy services cited lack of knowledge as a barrier to its use. The purpose of this study was to explore the knowledge and understanding of palliative radiotherapy among nurses working within oncology & palliative care settings

Materials/Methods: A non- experimental descriptive method of quantitative research was employed. A purposive sample of 162 nurses that worked within oncology and palliative care settings, were invited to complete a questionnaire designed to assess palliative radiotherapy knowledge. Data analysis was completed using statistical software.

Results: Overall eligible response rate was 48.14%. Analysis of 78 completed questionnaires showed the average age of respondents to be 38 years who had in excess of ten years’ experience caring for patients with cancer. Over half of all nurses reported their knowledge of radiotherapy as insufficient for their needs and 94.8% (n=73) agreed that they would benefit from more education. Just 17.9% (n=14) of nurses correctly identified the minimum life expectancy of > 1 month in order for a patient to receive palliative radiotherapy. While the majority of nurses identified the effectiveness of radiotherapy for the treatment of bone metastases less than half recognised its role in the treatment of haematuria or ulcerating skin metastases. Overall knowledge measured was considered fair at 60.73% with palliative care nurses scoring marginally higher than oncology nurses.

Conclusion: More education is required for nurses to ensure they possess the necessary knowledge and skills to identify the clinical indications for palliative radiotherapy and be competent in their knowledge of the management of patients who are symptomatic of their disease when undergoing radiation treatment. Lack of knowledge was shown to be a barrier to radiation referral and therefore its potential benefits in palliation will continue to be underutilised unless this is improved upon.This study has identified specific areas of focus for developing future radiotherapy educational programmes.

Author Disclosure: K. Hayden: None. M. Connolly: None.

kim hayden, MSc, Post Grad Dip Adult Oncology Nursing, RGN.

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