The Emergence of Breast Care Nursing in A Developing Nation

This article was first published by Ann & Joshua Medical Publishing Co. Ltd in October 2019. 


Objective: In Sri Lanka, the incidence of breast cancer is increasing. Yet, Sri Lankan nurses have limited specialist education opportunities and no formal recognition of the breast care nurse (BCN) role to address this growing need. This project aimed to encourage the emergence of the BCN role in Sri Lanka by delivering a workshop for nurses to increase the knowledge and confidence in delivering breast cancer care.

Methods: This project was initiated by Zonta, a nonprofit, service organization, in collaboration with the National Cancer Control Programme of the Ministry of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine, Sri Lanka. A 2-day intensive workshop was designed by a collaborative team of Australian and Sri Lankan health professionals and delivered in Colombo. Its effectiveness was evaluated by measuring the knowledge about breast cancer, confidence with clinical care, and satisfaction with the workshop.

Results: Fifty nursing participants attended the workshop. Outcomes included a statistically significant increase in knowledge about breast cancer (P = 0.012) and confidence in clinical care (P < 0.003 for all aspects of confidence). All participants were highly satisfied with the workshop, agreeing that the content was relevant and that they developed new skills.

Conclusions: Nurses in Sri Lanka have unmet needs for specialty training and education. A 2-day workshop can improve knowledge and confidence, with the potential to improve patient care and increase the recognition of the BCN role. Lessons learnt from the collaboration between the nongovernment and government partners provide a model for the development of specialist nursing education.


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