Date of Conferral



Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)




Cheryl W. McGinnis


The distress thermometer (DT) is a screening tool designed to measure the level of stress in oncology patients. Clinical oncology nurses (CONs) at the local site lacked knowledge and training on how to administer and apply the DT. Because of this practice gap, patients were not receiving referrals to the necessary support services. The purpose of this project was to design and validate a CON staff education program on the use of the DT. The diffusion of innovation theory along with the theory of interpersonal relations served as the conceptual framework for the project. The project was organized into a 5-step process, consisting of interviewing stakeholders, conducting a literature review, developing a staff education module on the DT, validating the content of the DT module, and creating an implementation. Five local experts with at least 5 years of experience in oncology nursing participated in the validation of the staff education program. All the participants strongly agreed or agreed that the educational module provided CONs the necessary knowledge to use the DT to identify and refer patients in distress. Module changes made after expert responses were the following: separating the slides to ensure that the slides were not overwhelming for the readers, inserting screenshots of the questions from the electronic health record into the educational module, adding a distressed patient scenario, and adding test questions after each DT question. Implementation of these changes may help CONs to better understand module content. Stakeholders support the module implementation for all CONs in the oncology clinic, which may result in less distress among oncology patients. Module implementation has the potential to promote social change through increased staff knowledge on the use of the DT for the identification of patient distress and the required support service referrals

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Nursing Commons