Chemotherapy hair saving therapy (CHST) (i.e. scalp cooling or cold capping) is a technology that can be utilized by cancer patients to prevent chemotherapy induced alopecia (CIA). Machine scalp cooling must be available at the institution that the patient receives chemotherapy, while manual cold caps are brought by the patient with dry ice or, more rarely, kept in freezers at the institutions. Scalp cooling requires multidisciplinary support, including from nurses, whom often serve a critical role as a patient advocate and touch point during the process in chemotherapy infusion room. Interestingly, in one study, oncology nurses felt important in the process of patients utilizing CHST to prevent CIA, while 93% of oncology nurses agreed that they required additional education regarding CHST. This survey was conducted to assess oncology nurse perceptions of chemotherapy hair saving therapy and perceived barriers to its use.
We conducted a cross-sectional survey of oncology nurses comprised of 28 questions. Distribution of the survey was conducted through the Lippincott Williams & Wilkins Nursing Masterfile Email list of Nurses who specialize in oncology and at the Oncology Nursing Society’s Signature Congress.
Sixty-nine oncology nurses responded to our survey. Approximately 50% (33/66) of respondents stated they were very familiar with CHST (manual cold caps and machine scalp cooling). Approximately 71% (31/44) of respondents indicated they would support their institution in providing machine scalp cooling system; 85.7% (36/42) indicated they agree that all patients should have the option to use scalp cooling. However, only 5.88% and 23.53% of oncology nurses recommend CHST to patients always or most of the time, respectively. Fifty-six percent (23/41) agreed the effort and cost of chemo hair saving cold therapy are worth the benefit received. The three most common barriers identified to the nurse’s interest level in supporting CHST for patients included financial concerns for patients (n=22), staffing constraints (n=17), and efficacy concerns(n=17).
Prevention of CIA is effective with chemotherapy hair saving therapy, however patient use remains limited. Up-to-date knowledge about scalp cooling for practitioners, including oncology nurses, may increase patient utilization of this technology. Addressing the barriers highlighted by nurses via education about funding organizations for patients and the efficacy of scalp cooling in addition to the creation of scalp cooling roles/processes within an institution may support the increased recommendation of the technology by oncology nurses.
Audience Take Away Notes:
- The audience we will be able to use what they learn from our presentation to better understand nurses’ attitudes and opinions toward chemotherapy hair saving therapy.
- This presentation identifies barriers among patient care that hospitals may be able to address in order to improve access and use of a technology that can reduce CIA.
- This research can be used by other faculty to expand research, teaching, and patient care by expanding practitioner awareness of chemotherapy hair saving therapy.