Assessing Knowledge of Ovarian Cancer in Baccalaureate Nursing Students

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Victoria Loerzel, PhD, RN
College of Nursing, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL

Learning Objective 1: The learner will be able to appreciate the effect of the NEI in educting nursing students about ovarian cancer

Learning Objective 2: The learner will be able to understand the importance of reinforcing knowledge related to educating students regarding diseases with a high mortality rate


Approximately 22,500 women in the United States are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year; 70% of these women will die from their disease.  Early detection significantly improves survival rates, however most women are diagnosed with advanced disease.  Education related to risk, symptoms and early detection is needed within healthcare and the community.  The purpose of this study was to examine knowledge retention of nursing students participating in the Nurses Educational Initiative (NEI), an educational program for ovarian cancer. 


Descriptive design was used.  Convenience sampling was used to recruit 107 undergraduate nursing students in a large university in the southeastern United States. The NEI survey was used to measure knowledge related to risk factors, symptoms and early detection methods for ovarian cancer. Data were collected at prior to the NEI (T1), immediately after the NEI (T2) and 18 months after the NEI (T3).  Descriptive statistics and paired t-tests with Bonferroni corrections were used to analyze data. An overall knowledge score was summed from the number of correct answers on each subject’s NEI survey. Knowledge of individual items was evaluated using frequencies and percentages.


At T1, the overall knowledge score was 11.34 (SD=2.76).  At T2:16.43 (SD=1.78), and at T3: 13.35 (SD=2.27). Paired t tests showed a significant increase in knowledge from T1 to T2 (t(106)=-19.071, p=.000) and a significant decrease in knowledge from T2 to T3 (t(106)=13.022, p=.000).  Retention of individual items will also be presented.


Students improved their knowledge about ovarian cancer immediately after the NEI and were able to retain some knowledge over time.  While undergraduate nursing students actively learn about risk, symptoms and early detection of ovarian cancer, reinforcement is needed over time.  Lack of retention may have a negative effect on client care.  Implications for practice and research will be addressed.