Radiation therapy is a common treatment for cancer, and current patient education practices do not always meet patient needs. The aims of this three-pronged study were to assess; 1) Patient knowledge and anxiety following current education practices, 2) Where patients get information related to radiation treatment, and does it change, and 3) Does education meet the specific needs of patients undergoing radiation treatment? A two-page survey was administered at two time points during the radiation therapy treatment pathway, and four follow-up interviews were conducted. Analysis for the participant group (n=26), and sub analysis for two groups, breast cancer (BCG) (n=14) and other cancer (OCG) (n=12) was conducted. Results for study one found knowledge gaps for radiation procedures at pre-treatment, and post-treatment lower knowledge for the interprofessional (IP) team roles, side effects, and impact of radiation therapy. Pre-treatment knowledge increased from 19% to 56% post-treatment. BCG pre-treatment knowledge ‘I know nothing’ was 9% and the OCG was 31%. Findings indicated anxiety was highest pre- and post-treatment for life impact of radiation therapy and side effects. Differences between BCG (16%) and OCG pre-treatment anxiety existed (22%). Study two indicated the radiation oncologist was the greatest source of information pre- and post-treatment, and the radiation therapist represented the greatest increase of information source, 50%. Treatment team confidence improved pre- to post-treatment by 19.2% and satisfaction with education improved significantly, p=0.001. Study three themes emerged related to IP team, high value of education, gaps related to treatment procedures, and long-term impacts of treatment. Findings indicate a paradigm shift to targeted patient education, based on individual needs and behaviors is needed; the role of the radiation therapist and end of treatment education should be explored further.
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