Dissertation Abstract

Patient Education in Radiation Oncology: A Needs Assessment of Patients Receiving Radiation Treatment for Cancer.

Publication Number:  AAT9400569
Author:  Idehen, Francis
School:  Columbia University Teachers College
Date:  1993
Pages:  185
Subject:  Radiation Therapy, Patient Care

Radiation therapy is one of the four most common treatment modalities for cancer, utilized in over fifty percent of all patients with cancer at some time during the course of the disease. A review of the literature reveals a lack of quality written information for radiation oncology patients that specifically addresses their needs. Much of the available information has been based on professionals' perception of patients' needs rather than on actual assessment of patients' desires. In order to provide cancer patients receiving radiation therapy with information that will help them manage their health care on a long term basis, radiation oncology professionals need to know how the patients view their own learning needs.

The purpose of this study was to conduct a needs assessment survey of patients receiving radiation treatment for cancer, based on patients' perceptions of their felt needs. A non-randomized convenience sample of 240 patients participated in the study. Data were collected using the Assessment Of Learning Needs: Oncology Instrument (ALNOI) Part I and Part II. Instrument Part I was used to assess the patients' perceived learning needs and Part II identify their preferred learning formats. A test-retest study was conducted to determine the reliability of the instrument using a smaller sample (n = 30). Positive Pearson correlation coefficients (r = +0.82, p $<$ 0.05) and (r = +0.92, p $<$ 0.05) were found for ALNOI Part I and ALNOI Part II, respectively. The relationships between selected demographic characteristics such as age, sex, race, income, education, and diagnosis, and the importance the patients attributed to the information items on ALNOI Part I were statistically examined.

The results of this study suggest that radiation oncology patients do, in fact, have substantial unmet information needs. The patients perceived 'minimizing side-effects of radiation therapy' to be most important to them, followed by 'potential side-effects of radiation therapy'; and identified the booklet as their most preferred learning format, followed by the videotape. The test-retest results indicate that the Instrument is reliable. Recommendations for future research and practice are discussed.

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