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Assessing Knowledge and Confidence Levels of Nurses Caring for the Pediatric Pulmonary Hypertension Patient

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Conference: 2014 International PHA Conference and Scientific Sessions

Release Date: 06.22.2014

Presentation Type: Abstracts

File Download: 2014 Conference Abstract - Patricia Lawrence

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The nursing care and management of pediatric patients with Pulmonary Hypertension (PH) is complex, challenging and not widely understood. The PH Program at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Sibley Heart Center, established in 2011, has grown at a rapid pace.

Background: The nursing care and management of pediatric patients with Pulmonary Hypertension (PH) is complex, challenging and not widely understood. The PH Program at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Sibley Heart Center, established in 2011, has grown at a rapid pace.  The need for an intensive educational program for nurses caring for PH patients on the cardiac step-down unit was recognized. To date, there are no published reports assessingKnowledge and confidence levels of nurses caring for this group of fragile patients. The aim of this project was to detail the impact of this educational program on acquired knowledge and confidence levels for its intended audience.

Implementation/Methodology: The unit selected for the educational program was a 27-bed cardiac step-down unit, staffed by approximately 60 nurses. This 5-week long, voluntary program consisted of 'theme month' utilizing several educational components. First, nurses’ knowledge was assessed by a 15 question test which focused on five content areas: basic PH knowledge, signs and symptoms, treatment, safety considerations, and PH crisis. The test was offered to all nurses both before and after the educational program. The educational components covered the same five content areas that were included in the test, and included short lectures, posters, daily email of PH facts, case studies and games.  Finally, a survey was sent to all nurses, both before and after the educational program, inquiring about confidence levels in caring for the PH patient.

Results: Of the more than 60 nurses who were asked to participate on a volunteer basis, 39 unique nurses completed either the pre- or post-test. A total of 31 completed only the pre-test, 28 only the post-test and 20 both the pre- and post-test. Of the 20 that completed both, 17 nurses improved their test score from an average of 58% to 77%. Confidence was measured on a scale of 0-3, where 0 is no confidence, 1 is mildly confident, 2 moderately, and 3 is extremely confident. Average scores improved by 18% in the area of confidence to care for a PH patient, increasing from 1.7 to 2. The confidence to recognize symptoms of PH crisis improved by 60%, increasing from 1 to 1.6, and the confidence to care for a PH patient in crisis improved by 75%, increasing from 0.8 to 1.4.

Conclusions: The success of this voluntary educational program was due, in large part, to the enthusiasm of the nurses for whom the project was designed. The majority of nurses who participated in the program improved their knowledge and confidence in caring for this complex and fragile group of patients. Limiting factors included nurses' time required on a busy unit with a high turnover rate despite the 24/7 access to information and incentives.