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Survey of Oncology Nurses Reveals Need for Knowledge Regarding Genetic Evaluation and LGBTQIA+ Cancer Care

In May of 2022, i3 Health conducted a survey of 230 oncology nurses at the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) 47th Annual Congress in Anaheim, California, to assess nurses' familiarity and desire to understand genetic evaluation and counseling and LGBTQIA+ cancer care.

Genetic evaluation and counseling are ways for patients to better understand their genome and how their DNA might be able to warn them, and even their family, about their risks to certain cancers and diseases. There are a variety of types of genetic testing, including presymptomatic and predictive testing, diagnostic testing, carrier testing, prenatal testing, newborn screening, preimplantation testing, and pharmacogenetics. These types of procedures can be highly beneficial to current and potential cancer patients to better understand their needs. Oncology nurses must be aware of these kinds of tests and how this knowledge can improve their patients' lives.

Out of the 230 oncology nurses surveyed at ONS Congress, 83% reported seeing patients who might benefit from a referral for genetic evaluation. Even with most nurses recognizing this benefit, only 23% reported a high confidence in identifying patients in their ability to identify individuals who might benefit from a cancer genetics referral; 39% reported moderate confidence; 31% reported slight confidence; and 7% reported no confidence. Overall, 70% of oncology nurses surveyed reported they would like to receive education on the subject to enhance their practice. 


Despite nearly every doctor and nurse having LGBTQIA+ individuals as patients, the National LGBT Cancer Network explains how the community faces disparities and a disproportionate burden when it comes to cancer and cancer care. As of now, there are no surveys or data collections being gathered by large national cancer registries regarding information on sexual or gender minorities. This comes as a major detriment to the LGBTQIA+ community by leaving them without the extent of knowledge these kinds of surveys and data collections reveal. It would be beneficial for oncology nurses to bolster their knowledge of these burdens to better help and care for the LGBTQIA+ cancer community.

Out of the 230 oncology nurses surveyed, only 16% felt very confident in their knowledge of the health needs of the LGBTQIA+ cancer community; 47% reported moderate confidence; 28% reported slight confidence; and 9% reported no confidence. With that, only 32% felt comfortable caring for LGBTQIA+ patients; 44% felt moderately comfortable; 19% felt slightly comfortable; and 5% felt not comfortable at all.

Overall, 70% of nurses revealed they would like to receive further knowledge and education in both subjects: genetic evaluation and counseling and LGBTQIA+ cancer care.


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