Oncology nurses often work with older patients with cancer, but knowledge gaps in training can remain. To combat this issue, researchers implemented an educational curriculum in geriatric care for oncology nurses and presented the results of that training at the 2018 American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting.

The study and curriculum implementation were supported by a National Cancer Institute (NCI)-funded R25 grant and focused on education that would improve geriatric patient care. According to researchers, the study was a 2.5-day course in geriatrics for oncology nurses. Participants were competitively chosen teams (a manager, an educator, and a clinical provider) from various cancer settings across the United States.

Each team developed three goals, based on how to improve geriatric oncology care in their settings. Researchers coded the goals into detailed subcategories, including:

  • Research focused
  • Clinical care
  • Education
  • Geriatric assessment
  • Symptom focused
  • Caregiver related
  • Infrastructure/team building
  • Other

Researchers tracked the teams’ progress toward their goals at 6, 12, and 18 months post-course. According to researchers, 99 nurses (34 teams) participated in the first conference. Overall goal achievement at 6, 12, and 18 months was categorized as never started (29%, 7%, 4%), stopped (2%, 10%, 15%), stalled (9%, 20%, 13%), in process (48%, 38%, 30%) and completed (13%, 25%, 37%). However, from 6 to 18 months, the goal completion rate increased significantly (p < 0.0001); at 18 months, 67% of the goals were either in process or completed.

“Over the subsequent 18 months, nurses enacted goals to improve geriatric oncology care in their institutions,” the authors said. “Continued follow-up and support is needed post-course to foster goal completion.”