Oncology clinic nurses’ perception of routine fall assessment and screening in older adults with cancer

September 24th, 2019 in International News

By Kristen Haase, RN PhD and Schroder Sattar, RN PhD

Cancer is one of the most common diseases worldwide and is most common amongst adults over age 50. Although the risk of falls is a concern for many older adults, this risk is greater amongst those with cancer due to the side effects and toxicities of cancer treatments. Although there is growing literature on nurses approach to fall management in the broader literature, less is known about how oncology clinic nurses incorporate falls assessments into their practice. As such, we have recently launched an online survey to explore oncology clinic nurses’ perception regarding routine fall assessment and fall screening in older patients. And below are findings from our preliminary analysis:

To date, 113 oncology nurses have participated in the online survey (Canada 59%, Belgium 34%, United States 3%, Australia 3%). The majority of respondents believed older patients should be screened for fall risks (68.8%) and asked about falls (85.1%) at each appointment. When a fall is reported, the most common actions include asking circumstances of falls (97.3%), asking if walking aids were used at the time of the fall (81.4%), informing the oncologist (75.3%), and medication review (61.8%). The majority stated they would be willing to routinely ask older patients about falls (84.5%) and screen for fall risks (74.5%). For those who were unwilling to implement routine fall assessment or gait and balance screening, lack of time and support staff, belief that patients will volunteer information about falls, and feeling unprepared/unfamiliar with screening tools were key barriers.

Our preliminary findings suggest that many oncology nurses believe in the importance of routine fall assessment and screening and are willing to implement them routinely. However, structural, attitudinal, and knowledge-based barriers exist that may impede nurses’ ability or willingness to do so. This highlights the need to explore strategies to address these barriers to mitigate the harmful effects of falls amongst this population.

The survey is currently still open, if you have yet to participate, please kindly take a moment to complete the survey and feel free to share this survey widely.