Online learning modules for oncology nurses offer a great deal of promise for improving physical activity counseling practices. However, more refinements appear to be warranted, according to a new study in Oncology Nursing Society/ONF.  Researchers at Nipissing University in North Bay, Ontario, Canada, tested an online learning intervention and found some improvements in parameters of physical activity counseling, but the tool did not lead to a greater increase in the number of cancer survivors receiving counseling.   

The online learning intervention evaluated in this study appeared to have benefits when it came to helping improve self-efficacy for providing physical activity counseling and reducing the perceived barriers to physical activity counseling. Meghan McDannald, MSN, RN, a clinical nurse specialist in medical oncology at Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine in Saint Louis, Missouri, said increased physical activity often can lead to better outcomes in oncology patients. “Increased physical activity can combat fatigue, which is one of the most distressing symptoms that patients report when going through cancer treatment,” McDannald told Oncology Nurse Advisor.

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The researchers conducted a randomized, controlled trial with 54 oncology nurses (27 in the learning modules and 27 in the control group). The oncology nurses (mean age, 45.4 years) had been practicing for a mean of 19.5 years. The nurses were enrolled between November 2012 and July 2013.