Nurses' knowledge, beliefs, and practices related to cancer prevention and detection

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The purpose of this study was to assess the needs of nurses in the area of cancer prevention and early detection. Six parallel forms of a survey instrument were developed to assess the knowledge base, beliefs, and practices of nurses in the prevention and early detection of breast, lung, colorectal, prostate, gynecological, and skin cancers. Responses from 2,348 nurses indicated that they knew the most about prevention and early detection of breast and prostate cancer and the least about endometrial and lung cancer. When asked about specific practices, such as performing skin examinations, teaching breast self-examination, or counseling regarding smoking cessation, most nurses reported using these practices with 0–20% of their patients. Despite their apparent lack of participation in prevention and detection, the majority of nurses (66%) believe that cancer prevention is part of the role of the staff nurse. Results suggest that nurses need to be given the tools with which to perform, the knowledge and the time to participate, as well as an expectation from their employers that cancer prevention and early detection is part of their role.

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