"4MAT" System Promotes Patient Adherence to ONS PEP Radiation Dermatitis Guidelines

WASHINGTON, DC—“4MAT” education provided by trained nurses can help individualize and optimize patient use of an evidence-based skin care protocol based on the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) Putting Evidence into Practice (PEP) guidelines for radiation dermatitis, a study presented at the ONS 38th Annual Congress has found.

“This project demonstrates the value of using a theory-driven approach to patient education that can be applied and then evaluated across many care settings,” noted Pamela Laszewski, RN, OCN, of The Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Center, Detroit, MI.

The goal was to evaluate patient adaptability with respect to providing self-care of radiation dermatitis, defined as dry to moist desquamation leading to discomfort, infection, and impaired ability to perform activities of daily living. Since patients typically receive radiation treatment as outpatients, they are required to provide self-care. “Thus, it is critical to provide instructions on self-care in a consistent manner that is understandable and acceptable to the patient, while accommodating the patient's learning abilities and skills,” Laszewski noted.

The 4MAT System addresses four learning styles; a distinct feature is that it also provides an easy-to-follow four-point learning process: Why, What, How, and So What. By teaching in this sequence, nurses can address all four learning styles with clear goals.

“Although nurses know what to teach patients about radiation dermatitis, there is a general concern on how to individualize teaching plans to meet the needs of individual patients,” she added. “By using a theory-driven, standardized approach to patient education, oncology nurses can be assured that their patients have a better understanding of the education provided.”

Using the 4MAT System, a plan was developed for the nurses to teach patients about skin care in a standardized fashion. Patients were educated in several different formats: face-to-face counseling with a specially trained nurse, video presentation of skin care guidelines using the 4MATing theory, and a handout about applying the learning theory.

Development of the teaching tools came together quickly using a theory-driven approach which facilitated the organization of the multiple teaching tools. “By using a theory-driven, standardized approach to patient education, oncology nurses can be assured that their patients have a better understanding of the education provided,” the researchers concluded.

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