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Oncology Nurses’ Knowledge, Confidence, and Practice in Addressing Caregiver Strain and Burden

Margaret M. Irwin
William N. Dudley
Laurel Northouse
Donna L. Berry
Gail A. Mallory
ONF 2018, 45(2), 187-196 DOI: 10.1188/18.ONF.187-196

Objectives: To describe nurses’ practices, confidence, and knowledge of evidence-based interventions for cancer caregiver strain and burden and to identify factors that contribute to these aspects.

Sample & Setting: 2,055 Oncology Nursing Society members completed an emailed survey.

Methods & Variables: Pooled analysis of survey results. Variables included the baseline nursing assessment, intervention, confidence, knowledge, strategies used, and barriers encountered.

Results: Nurses tend to overestimate the strength of evidence for interventions not shown to be effective and have moderate confidence in assessing and intervening with caregivers. Having been an informal caregiver and having received care from an informal caregiver were associated with higher reported practice and confidence. Major strategies used were referral to social workers and others. Barriers reported were financial, caregiver emotional responses, and distance.

Implications for Nursing: An opportunity exists to increase nurses’ knowledge and confidence in assessment and intervention with caregivers. Greater use of technology may help nurses overcome some barriers to working with caregivers. Findings can be used to plan continuing education, develop clinical processes, and identify resources nurses need to address strain and burden among informal caregivers.

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