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Karmanos’ Radiation Oncology nurses to receive $10,000 grant to implement new guidelines to prevent radiation dermatitis

Radiation Oncology nurses at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Center will receive nearly $10,000 in grant funding from the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) Foundation to launch an evidence-based practice (EBP) project to promote best practices in the care of patients at risk for radiation dermatitis.

Their clinical project is titled, “4MAT’ing Patient Education to Promote Patient Adherence to ONS PEP Guidelines for Radiation Dermatitis.”  ONS’ PEP, which stands for “Putting Evidence into Practice,” is a set of topic-specific, evidence-based guidelines.  It is expected that this theory-driven project will help patients, who may have different learning styles, more readily learn about and use appropriate skin care behaviors to prevent radiation dermatitis. Funding for Year One in the amount of $4,787 has been approved and funding for Year Two of $4,750 is contingent on the success of the first year.  Funds are coming from the ONS Foundation Endowment.

“We are very pleased to receive this grant,” said Carole Bauer, MSN, RN,  ANP-BC, OCN, CWOCN, Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Nurse Practitioner at Karmanos and grant recipient  for the project. “Radiation dermatitis is a significant issue for patients undergoing radiation therapy.  It can lead to impaired quality of life, inability to perform daily activities and can result in the delay of treatment.  This EBP project will encourage patient adherence to guidelines to promote their own health and well-being.”

Bauer is joined on the project by fellow Karmanos staff members Pamela Laszewski, clinical leader, Lena Andriths, Cindy Zelko and Eva Vera Cruz, staff nurses all from Karmanos’ Gershenson Radiation Oncology Center; Morris Magnan, clinical nurse specialist; Cindy Faigin, staff nurse at Karmanos’ Weisberg Cancer Treatment Center, and Deborah Prysby, staff nurse at Karmanos’ Monroe Cancer Center.

Project objectives include translating ONS PEP recommendations for radiation dermatitis into teaching tools for patients undergoing radiation therapy so that they can benefit from care derived from an EBP standard, which may lead to improved comfort and safety.  By standardizing skin care education for patients undergoing radiation therapy, patients will benefit from having a consistent approach to learning about caring for their own dermatitis, one that will reinforce what they learn.

Additionally, by employing multiple strategies for teaching about skin care through verbal, written and video methods, nurses are more apt to meet patients’ preferred style of learning, which in turn will help ensure optimum adherence to the ONS PEP recommendations for skin care while they undergo radiation therapy.  The project has begun and will conclude in December 2014. The team expects to reach 125 patients during the first phase of the project.

"This is a unique project in that we are using a theory to guide the development of patient teaching tools to increase adherence to a specific guideline that has been published as best practice for the care of the patient undergoing radiation therapy,” Bauer said.  “With this project we will not only be teaching patients what they need to know, we will use a learning theory to teach patients in ways that we hope will overcome common barriers to learning.”

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