Oral Care: Exploring Education, Attitudes, and Behaviors Among Nurses Caring for Patients With Breast Cancer

Jennifer A. Suminski

Marita Inglehart

Stephanie M. Munz

Catherine H. Van Poznak

L. Susan Taichman

breast cancer, oral health, education, attitude, behavior
CJON 2017, 21(3), 371-378. DOI: 10.1188/17.CJON.371-378

Background: Patients treated for breast cancer often experience severe oral complications, such as mucositis, xerostomia, and infections, which can result in dose reductions and treatment delays, affecting treatment outcomes.

Objectives: The purpose of this article is to explore oncology nurses’ perceptions of their educational experiences, professional attitudes, and behavior related to providing oral healthcare education to patients with breast cancer.

Methods: The Oncology Nursing Society sent an email to 5,000 nursing team members who cared for patients with breast cancer, requesting participation in a web-based survey; 194 responses were received, with 164 meeting study eligibility.

Findings: More oral health–related education was received during clinical experiences than during formal or continuing education. Although patient-driven oral care and diagnostic efforts were frequent, actual behavior was less frequent. No major barriers to providing oral care were indicated. Increased oral health–related education and behavior correlated with the reported importance of increased oral health education for nurses.

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