Nurse-led education with a DVD improves patient understanding of chemotherapy side effects

NEW ORLEANS—Nurse-led education about chemotherapy in combination with a DVD about side effects effectively increases patient understanding of their illness, according to research presented at the Oncology Nursing Society 37th Annual Congress.

Educating patients and their families about the side effects of chemotherapy and how to manage them is standard practice at most cancer centers, but when, where, and how the teaching takes place varies. Providing concise, consistent, and individually relevant information to patients is crucial.

At Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, patients could potentially be educated about chemotherapy at in-patient units, out-patient units, or the cancer education center. The hospital wanted to make sure that no matter where patients went, no matter who they talked to, that they would receive consistent information, said Kelli Fee-Schroeder, RN, BSN, OCN, one of the study authors.

To increase education about chemotherapy and side effect management, Kelli Fee-Schroeder, RN, BSN, OCN, and Janine Kokal, RN, MS, OCN, of Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN offered a nurse-led chemotherapy class utilizing a DVD and group discussion to patients and families, regardless of the time since chemotherapy initiation. Class content focused on self-care strategies for 13 specific side effects. Adult learning theory principles and social cognitive theory were used in the development of the DVD and class curriculum.

At total of 81 participants were enrolled in the study. At the chemotherapy education class, an oncology nurse educator showed an 11-minute DVD to participants and then led a group discussion. The DVD was formatted as a Powerpoint presentation containing minimal text and mostly images and was accompanied by voiceover. A follow-up survey consisting of 22 yes/no questions and 3 open-ended ones was distributed postclass and again at 8 weeks to assess understanding of treatment side effects, self-care management, and confidence in managing side effects. Forty-two of 81 patients completed the surveys. Descriptive statistics were used to summarize the data.

Results from the postclass and 8 week surveys were similar: 97% to 100% of participants reported an increased understanding of chemotherapy side effects and how to handle them. They also experienced increased motivation to use self-care strategies and more confidence in managing side effects. Of note, 73% of participants listed specific behaviors learned in the class that they planned to adopt. At follow-up, 70% of respondents reported having used these strategies. In addition, patients strongly felt the course content had reinforced what they already knew or what they had heard about coping with chemotherapy side effects.

“Based on the qualitative and quantitative data, a major outcome suggested that the DVD, oncology RN facilitation, and group discussion was highly valued and provided the ultimate combination of consistent information, content adaptation, and expert knowledge in empowering patients and families through their chemotherapy experience,” the authors concluded.

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