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Eur J Oncol Nurs. 2008 Jul;12(3):244-52. doi: 10.1016/j.ejon.2008.02.001. Epub 2008 May 7.

Exploring the work of nurses who administer chemotherapy.

Author information

  • 1King's College London, Florence Nightingale School of Nursing & Midwifery, London SE1 8WA, UK. rebecca.verity@kcl.ac.uk


There is little research exploring nurses' experiences of, and attitudes towards, the chemotherapy administration process. There is also limited work investigating practitioners' educational preparation for this aspect of cancer nursing. The aim of this study was to describe nurses' experiences, attitudes and educational preparation for the chemotherapy administration process. A postal survey was conducted across 26 London hospitals providing cancer services. A survey questionnaire was sent to all 526 nurses who administered chemotherapy in these hospitals, of whom 257 replied (response rate 49%). Nearly all nurses (n=244, 95%) reported being frightened, scared and anxious when initially working with chemotherapy. Of these 221(86%) stated they became more confident with experience, when supported by knowledgeable role models and following chemotherapy education. Over 80% (n=206) of the sample had received some form of education, whilst 241 nurses (94%) thought they could benefit from more. Nurses reported they were often or always worried about extravasation (n=113, 44%), anaphylactic reactions (n=95, 37%), and other nurses' education and knowledge deficits (n=118, 46%). Overall, nurses' attitudes towards chemotherapy were neither negative nor positive. Findings highlight the value of formal educational preparation in chemotherapy prior to undertaking this aspect of nursing. Positive role models for novice practitioners would appear important and role models themselves require continued professional development. Wide variations in educational preparation and practice exist and a co-ordinated education and training strategy for chemotherapy practice is warranted to underpin safe and effective practice in this area.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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