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Nurses, Knowledge and Practice of Palliative Care and Associated Factors for Management of Cancer Patients in Tertiary Hospitals in a South-eastern State, Nigeria.

*Umobi, Chima P; Ogbonnaya, Ngozi. P.; Anarado, Agnes. N.; Egbuniwe, Michel. C.; Frank, Maureen; Onyeyili, Adaora. N.; Makachi, Monica. C., Nigeria

Cancer is a leading cause of death and a major disease burden worldwide. Its burden in Nigeria is appreciable with most patients diagnosed with advanced disease. In response to the unmet needs of such patients, palliative care (PC) emerged. This study investigated nurses' knowledge and practice of PC, and associated factors in the management of cancer patients in two tertiary hospitals in Anambra State, Nigeria.
Survey design was employed. From target population of 556 nurses working at the selected hospitals, 251 nurses were recruited for the study. Data collection instrument was a validated questionnaire partly researcher developed and partly adapted from standard instrument {Palliative Care Quiz for Nurses (PCQN)}. Data was analysed in percentages and means. Hypotheses were tested using Chi-square and t-test at alpha level of p<0.05.
Major findings were: Overall knowledge of PC was poor, 71.8% had inadequate knowledge especially of pain management. Nurses' practice of PC was equally poor with mean score < 2.50. There were no significant (p>0.05) differences in knowledge and practice of PC between nurses in the two institutions. Challenges facing nurses in PC practice were: lack of training, nonexistence of institutional policy backing PC, and late reporting of cancer patients to hospital. Only 2.5% of the participants had attended seminar/workshop on palliative care.
These respondents have poor knowledge and practice of PC with lack of enabling institutional policy supporting PC. Advocacy, workshop/seminar would be viable strategies to address these problems in the study facilities.

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