A pilot study has demonstrated a lag in the integration of genetics and genomics into nursing practice, which is an increasingly required professional skill for oncology nurses.
Knowledge of cancer genetics and genomics has increasingly become a required professional skill for oncology nurses; however, a pilot study has demonstrated a lag in the integration of genetics and genomics into nursing practice. At the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) 37th Annual Congress, Georgie Cusack, MS, RN, AOCNS®, and Jean Jenkins, PhD, RN, FAAN, from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), discussed the pilot study and available resources for enhancing oncology nurses’ genetics and genomics competency.
The pilot study, which was a collaborative effort between four agencies within the NIH, “compared nursing attitudes, practices, receptivity, confidence, and competency in integrating genetic and genomic information into [clinical practice],” according to Cusack. The data were collected from nurses through online surveys.
Cusack said the results revealed, “The majority of respondents had a limited understanding of genetics and genomics.” She added that less than one-third of respondents were aware of the nursing competencies for genetics and genomics. Further, over three-fourths of the nurses were not collecting family histories from patients and incorporating the information into practice.
Cusack and Jenkins identified several resources that nurses can use to address the genetics and genomics knowledge and practice gap:
Beyond these resources, Cusack also discussed the potential benefit of implementing an online genetics and genomics course for nurses. She said another NIH pilot study evaluated the efficacy of a Web-based course called, “Basic Genetics Education for Healthcare Providers.” The program was a success, according to Cusack, with results showing a significant increase in knowledge scores for participating healthcare providers.
Cusack noted, however, that the overall scores in “content areas surrounding genetic risk identification and ethical issues regarding genetic testing reflected continued gaps in knowledge.” She said these results emphasize the ongoing need for nurses to expand their skills as the role of genetic and genomic information in patient care continues to grow.