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Cancer Nurs. 2001 Feb;24(1):44-52.

The Breast Cancer Distance Education Program: development and evaluation of a course for specialist breast care nurses.

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  • 1Centre for Behavioral Research in Cancer, Cancer Control Research Institute, Anti-Cancer Council of Victoria, Carlton, Australia.


The Breast Cancer Distance Education Program is the first tertiary-based education program for specialist breast care nurses in Australia. The program covers current treatment options, psychosocial issues, and professional development issues relating to breast cancer nursing. For the first two student intakes (n = 53), precourse, postcourse, and 3-month follow-up surveys were conducted to assess the perceived value of the course, identify any limitations, and note changes in practice that arose. Before taking the course, most of the students had experience in breast cancer nursing, but lacked confidence and hoped to learn more about responding effectively to psychosocial issues through communication, counseling, and provision of support to patients and their carers. After taking the course, the students were very positive about the course content, resources, and teaching support. They reported learning new skills for addressing psychosocial issues and symptom management arising from a diagnosis of breast cancer, stating a desire to implement these new skills. Comparison between results from the three surveys indicated that students' confidence in providing breast cancer support increased significantly in most areas of practice, and was maintained at 3-month follow-up survey. Results suggest that students met the course objectives successfully, and in most cases subsequently translated their knowledge into improved practice.

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