It has been shown that the attitude we hold toward a topic or subject will influence our behavior toward it.4,25 Thus the attitudes toward cancer held by oncology nurses will influence the care given to cancer patients. The purpose of this study is to obtain information on nurses' attitudes and beliefs about cancer, and to determine some of the factors that may influence these attitudes. In particular, the study aims to determine if the country of residence and education has an effect on nurses' attitudes toward cancer. The method of data collection was by self-completion questionnaire incorporating demographic data questions and questions designed to determine attitude. Two groups of oncology nurses were studied; one group from The Royal Marsden Hospital, London, England, and the other from The National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, United States.
The study indicates that there are differences between British and American nurses with respect to their opinions on the values of treatment for cancers of different sites. Although both groups were pessimistic about cancer in general, attitudes varied by group regarding some specific sites. This indicates that for both groups, nurses' attitudes toward the generalized cancer do not correspond to their attitudes toward particular cancers. The differences in attitude between the British and American nurses could not be explained by the differences in experience that were found between the two groups. It would seem likely that the differences in attitude result from differences in the type of education or cultural differences. It is important to help nurses improve their attitudes so that negative attitudes toward cancer are not communicated to patients. The study indicates that it may be possible to improve attitudes by education. The cultural factors that affect attitude need to be studied in greater detail to determine which aspects of cultural difference produce the effects found.
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