Oncology Nurses' Knowledge of Suicide Evaluation and Prevention

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Background:Cancer patients can present with a risk of suicide, making it important for oncology nurses to be knowledge about the high-risk factors for suicide in this population and to be competent in suicide detection and management.Objective:The aim of this study was to describe oncology nurses' identification of risk factors, knowledge, and skill at suicide evaluation and prevention based on evaluation of a vignette and to describe nurses' assessments and interventions for suicidal patients.Methods:As part of a larger exploratory, national study, clinical oncology nurses (n = 1200) from the Oncology Nurses Society responded to a knowledge survey; a total of 454 evaluable questionnaires (37% response rate) were returned.Results:Nurses reviewed a vignette of a suicidal patient and correctly identified these risk factors: widower (69.8%), wishes he/she were dead (82.8%), and gives away prized possessions (79.6%). Few nurses knew that ethnicity (0.4%), age (13.2%), or sex (16.4%) indicated suicide risk. Nurses incorrectly believed that worrying, crying, and executive position indicated suicide risk (40.6-42%). Most nurses rated themselves as having little to some skill and knowledge of suicide evaluation.Conclusion:Oncology nurses were able to identify certain behavioral risk factors at acceptable rates but not demographic risk factors.Implications for Practice:Oncology nurses are likely to interact with patients at suicide risk and would benefit from knowledge about behavioral and demographic risk factors that contribute to an oncology patient becoming high risk for suicide. Such knowledge could contribute to overall patient safety.

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