WASHINGTONManaging the associated neurological problems of brain tumors is a crucial issue for oncology nurses, said Karen Baumgartner, MSN, APRN, BC, advance practice nurse in the Neuro Center at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. If nurses fail to notice the signs indicating increased intracranial pressure (ICP), neurological injury and even death can result.
When turnover in the nursing staff left a neuro-oncology unit devoid of nurses knowledgeable in basic neurological assessment and experienced at identifying the signs and symptoms of increased intracranial pressure, an effective and convenient teaching method became imperative. A nurse-designed self-study module met the need, Ms. Baumgartner and her colleague Susan Hummel, RN, MN, CNS, reported at the Oncology Nursing Society (abstract 83) Congress.
Based on guidelines from the Brain Trauma Foundation, the module included a pretest, written instructional material, a post-test, and an evaluation form. Four experienced oncology nurses who were nonetheless new to neuro-oncology used the module in a pilot study. At pretest, the nurses correctly answered an average of only 60% of questions. After studying with the module, they averaged 90% correct. Their evaluations of the written material suggested revisions were needed to explain more specifically the pathophysiology of increased intracranial pressure. Once the module is approved for continuing education credit, it will be made available to other nurses at the facility, she said.