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Pain management, glycaemic control and weaning from mechanical ventilation are nursing care areas that can impact on patient outcome and are commonly guided by protocols. However, in order to ensure safe, optimal management of patients, even when care is guided by protocols, nurses require a sound knowledge base. This study attempted to describe the knowledge of ICU nurses regarding pain management, glycaemic control and weaning from mechanical ventilation, to compare the difference in knowledge between ICU-trained and non-ICU-trained nurses and to describe the impact of years of ICU experience on this knowledge.
A prospective, descriptive, non-interventional study method was used. Approval was obtained from the ethics committee and other relevant authorities. The questionnaire used was developed and validated by two groups of ICU nursing experts. The study population included all consenting ICU nurses working in the ICUs of the five hospitals participating in this study.
There were 136 participants in the study (68 ICU trained and 68 non-ICU trained). The mean score obtained was 47.56% (SD 11.61), the ICU-trained participants obtaining 50.11 (SD 11.96) and the non-ICU trained obtaining 45.01 (SD 10.75). This difference was statistically significant (P = 0.0099). The difference between the two groups for the section on pain management was not statistically significant (P = 0.408) with ICU-trained participants achieving a mean score of 45.07% (SD 16.01) and non-ICU-trained participants 42.86 (SD 14.91). The difference between the two groups for the other two sections was statistically significant (P = 0.025 and P = 0.006, respectively) with the ICU-trained group achieving 51.26% (SD 11.74) and the non-ICU trained 46.16 (SD 14.34) for the glycaemic control section and 53.99% (SD 18.18) for the ICU-trained participants and 46.01% (SD 15.18) for non-ICU-trained participants for the section pertaining to weaning from mechanical ventilation. The correlation between knowledge and years of ICU experience was poor (r = 0.137).
This study found a lack of knowledge regarding the care areas tested, a small, but statistically significant difference between ICU-trained and non-ICU-trained nurses and a poor correlation between knowledge and years of ICU experience.