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Palliative Care: Improving Nursing Knowledge, Attitudes, and Behaviors

Karen Harden

Deborah Price

Elizabeth A. Duffy

Laura Galunas

Cheryl C. Rodgers

palliative care, end-of-life care, knowledge, attitudes, behaviors, nurse education
CJON 2017, 21(5), E232-E238. DOI: 10.1188/17.CJON.E232-E238

Background: Oncology nurses affect patient care at every point along the cancer journey. This creates the perfect opportunity to educate patients and caregivers about palliative care early and often throughout treatment. However, healthcare providers frequently do not have the knowledge and confidence to engage in meaningful conversations about palliative care.

Objectives: The specific aims were to improve oncology nurses’ palliative care knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors by providing a palliative care nursing education program. An additional aim was to increase the number of conversations with patients and families about palliative care.

Methods: This project had a pre-/post-test design to assess knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors at baseline and one month after implementation of an established education curriculum. The teaching strategy included one four-hour class for oncology RNs with topics about the definition of palliative care, pain and symptom management, and how to have palliative care conversations.

Findings: Results showed a statistically significant difference after the educational intervention for knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors. The number of conversations with patients and caregivers about palliative and end-of-life care increased significantly.

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