Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Cancer screening by nurses and midwives

Roger Watson, Editor-in-Chief

Do nurses and midwives practice what they preach about cancer screening? These professions may be at higher occupational risk of various cancers and are part of an ageing workforce so the risk of cancer is possibly higher than in other workforces. This study titled: 'The personal cancer screening behaviours of nurses and midwives' from Australia by Nicholls et al. (2016) and published in JAN aimed: 'to identify the personal cancer screening behaviours of nurses and midwives in New South Wales, Australia, and identify factors predictive of cancer screening uptake.'

Over 5000 nurses and midwives were surveyed and the data analysed to see what factors were related to cancer screening behaviours. Generally, nurses and midwives underwent cancer screening more frequently than the general population but part-time workers were more likely to do this than full-time workers and those working shifts were less likely to undergo screening than those in office-based jobs.  There were differences for the different types of cancer: breast; bowel; skin; and prostate, which are explained in the article.

The authors concluded: 'Higher participation rates in nurses, compared with the general public, are good news for the health of nurses and midwives and the community that relies on their care. Study findings suggest this ageing workforce is making protective choices which will impact their future risk of illness and premature departure from the workforce. However, findings also indicate avenues to further improve participation rates, particularly for skin and bowel cancer screening, and to ensure those thinking of undergoing screening fully understand its relative risks and benefits.'

You can listen to this as a podcast

Reference

NICHOLLS R., PERRY L., GALLAGHER R., DUFFIELD C., SIBBRITT D. & XU X. (2016) The personal cancer screening behaviours of nurses and midwives. Journal of Advanced Nursing  doi: 10.1111/jan.13221

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