Patients' perceptions of the importance of nurses' knowledge about cancer and its treatment for quality nursing care

Kirsti Kvåle, Margareth Bondevik
Oncology Nursing Forum 2010, 37 (4): 436-42

PURPOSE/OBJECTIVES: To gain insight into how and why patients' perceptions of nurses' knowledge about cancer and its treatments relate to quality nursing care.

DESIGN: Qualitative study inspired by Giorgi's approach to phenomenology.

SETTING: An oncology ward in a regional hospital in Norway.

SAMPLE: 20 patients (10 women and 10 men). Most received life-prolonging and symptom-relieving treatment, whereas 4 had the possibility of being cured.

METHODS: In-depth interviews were tape recorded, transcribed, and analyzed. The text was read as a whole, condensed into units of meaning, and clustered into themes of importance. Finally, the consistency between identified themes and the general structure of the interviews was checked.

FINDINGS: Patients regarded knowledge about cancer and its treatment as basic in nursing and took for granted that nurses had this competency. Three themes were identified that explained why the knowledge was important: (a) it makes patients feel safe and secure and alleviates suffering by providing useful information, (b) it prevents and alleviates suffering and insecurity during chemotherapy, and (c) it alleviates suffering by relieving side effects caused by the treatment and symptoms caused by the disease.

CONCLUSIONS: Patients appreciated meeting nurses who had experience and could combine clinical and biologic knowledge and nursing skills with a human touch. In addition, nurses alleviated patients' bodily and existential suffering and made them feel safe and secure.

IMPLICATIONS FOR NURSING: Experienced, effective nurses with knowledge about cancer and its treatments are needed in oncology wards to provide optimal care to patients.

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