The Effects of an Educational Intervention on Oncology Nurses' Attitude, Perceived Knowledge, and Self-Reported Application of Complementary Therapies

Rusti E. Hessig

Lori L. Arcand

Marlene H. Frost

ONF 2004, 31(1), 71-78. DOI: 10.1188/04.ONF.71-78

Purpose/Objectives: To evaluate the effects of an educational program on oncology nurses' attitude, perceived knowledge, and self-reported application of 10 complementary therapies (art, exercise, humor, imagery, journaling, massage, music, relaxation, spirituality, and touch).

Design: Quasi-experimental with a pre- and post-test design.

Setting: A large tertiary care medical center in the midwestern United States.

Sample: A convenience sample consisting of 44 RNs working on two hematology and oncology patient care units. Eleven nurses comprised the educational intervention group, and 14 nurses on the same unit served as one control group. A second control group was comprised of 19 nurses from a different unit.

Methods: The study approach consisted of the assessment of all participants' initial attitude toward, knowledge of, and application of complementary therapies. A researcher-developed questionnaire was completed before and at three and six months after the educational intervention.

Main Research Variables: Nurses' attitudes toward, knowledge of, and use of complementary therapies.

Findings: Nurses value complementary therapies but lack the knowledge regarding their application. In addition, a gap exists between self-reported knowledge and the actual application of therapies. An eight-hour educational intervention was useful in enhancing knowledge and, to some degree, increasing application of some of the therapies. According to participants, lack of time was the main deterrent impeding use of complementary therapies in their nursing practice.

Conclusions: Education can affect the knowledge and integration of complementary therapies in nursing practice.

Implications for Nursing: Further research is needed to evaluate outcomes and determine educational approaches that will produce positive changes in nurses' attitudes toward, knowledge of, and application of complementary therapies.

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