Nursing knowledge and assessment skills in the management of patients receiving analgesia via epidural infusion

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Title Nursing knowledge and assessment skills in the management of patients receiving analgesia via epidural infusion
Author Bird, Annette; Wallis, Marianne
Journal Name Journal of Advanced Nursing
Editor J P Smith, J Robinson
Year Published 2002
Place of publication United Kingdom
Publisher Blackwell Science
Abstract Background. In Australian hospitals, epidural infusions are commonly used for the management of post-operative pain in maternity and surgical patients, with little research evidence to indicate the efficacy of the educational preparation of nurses undertaking pain management. Aims. To describe nurses' assessment skills and knowledge related to the management of a patient with an epidural infusion and to explore relationships between these variables and the levels of education/clinical experience of the nurses. Methods. This descriptive correlational study used a convenience sample of surgical and obstetric unit registered nurses to explore relationships between the knowledge and skill in epidural management and the educational preparation of the nurse. Data were collected via survey and observation, using instruments developed by the research team. Results. The nurses had a good knowledge base for the performance of sensory blockade assessment but scored less well in motor blockade assessment and clinical decision-making. Nurses who had clinical experience, had completed a self- directed learning package and who worked in surgical areas scored higher on the survey than other nurses. Observation scores revealed a range of performance outcomes. There was only a weak correlation between knowledge and skill performance. There were no differences in scores for the observation exercise for different groups of nurses. Conclusion. The results of this study indicated that the nurses' theoretical knowledge outweighed their clinical skill performance and clinical decision-making. Education for nurses regarding the management of epidural infusions needs to be comprehensive, context specific and have the capacity to develop the nurse's autonomous critical thinking and clinical decision-making skills. Strategies for this include self-directed learning packages best supplemented by a demonstration of clinical skills and supervised practice.
Peer Reviewed Yes
Published Yes
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Copyright Statement Copyright 2002 Blackwell Publishing. The definitive version is available at []
Volume 40
Edition 5
Page from 522
Page to 531
ISSN 0309-2402
Date Accessioned 2003-03-28
Language en_AU
Research Centre Menzies Health Institute Qld
Faculty Faculty of Nursing & Health
Subject Clinical Nursing: Secondary (Acute Care)
Publication Type Journal Articles (Refereed Article)
Publication Type Code c1

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