UBC Theses and Dissertations
Learning needs of cancer patients receiving chemotherapy : patient, nurse, and physician perceptions Matheson, Karen Ann
Accurate assessment of educational needs is central to the planning of effective patient education programs. Adult learning theory holds that the more agreement that exists in the educator's and the learner's assessment of learning needs, the higher the probability that effective learning will occur. This descriptive survey was carried out to compare the learning needs of cancer patients receiving chemotherapy as perceived by three groups involved in patient education: nurses, physicians, and patients themselves. Using the Assessment of Learning Needs Questionnaire (ALNQ) developed by Lauer, Murphy, and Powers (1982) and demographic data questionnaires developed by the researcher, the perceptions of patients' learning needs held by a convenience sample of 20 lymphoma patients, 24 nurses, and ten physicians were studied. Responses to the rating and ranking scales of the ALNQ were analyzed using nonparametric statistical techniques to determine the existence and location of differences in perceptions among the three groups. General comments about patient education and the ALNQ were gathered from the patient group in an interview setting and from the two care giver groups through responses to two open-ended questionnaire items. Findings revealed that the learning needs of patients undergoing chemotherapy tend to focus on concerns related to the treatment experience, and the knowledge and skills required to cope with the impact of the disease and treatment on their lives. Patients described themselves as most knowledgeable in areas relating to life experience, rather than disease or treatment related areas, and were oriented to survival in their learning needs. The three groups demonstrated considerable similarity in their perceptions of areas problematic to patients and areas in which patients have the most knowledge. However, despite presumed knowledge and expertise in dealing with the concerns of chemotherapy patients, nurses' and physicians' perceptions of patients' learning needs differed from those held by patients. The care givers perceived patients to be more concerned with learning needs related to activities of daily living than patients reported. Implications for nursing practice and education are suggested, and recommendations made for further study.