Nurse Practitioners’ Knowledge, Attitudes, and Perceptions Regarding Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Treatment
Purdy, Tiffany-Mae Shannon
Study aims were to examine: a) knowledge level of primary care nurse practitioners (NP) regarding Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) pathophysiology, appropriate diagnosis, and evidence based treatment; b) primary care NPs’ perceptions and attitudes regarding caring for adult IBS patients; and c) correlations between primary care NP’s knowledge level, perceptions, and attitudes and sociodemographic variables including age, gender, years in practice as a primary care NP, and nursing education level.This descriptive, cross-sectional study used a survey design. The investigator-created, 39- item, 4-part survey assessed sociodemographic data, knowledge level, attitudes, and perceptions of NPs providing primary care for patients with IBS. The survey tool used a six-point Likert type scale, multiple choice options, and 2 open-ended questions. Following university IRB approval, the survey was administered via SurveyMonkeyTM through the Florida Association of Nurse Practitioners (FLANP). Statistical analysis included descriptive statistics, one-way ANOVA, and independent samples t test. SPSS (version 24, 2016) computer program was utilized for data analysis.A completed survey was returned by 64 NPs yielding a 0.06% response rate. Knowledge scores were low (M = 2.44; SD = 0.869) for pathophysiology, diagnosis, and treatment. Modest agreement was noted for attitude (M = 4.02; SD = 0.59) and perception (M = 4.41; SD = 0.58) scaled questions scores. Education level, years of NP experience, and age had no relationship with knowledge levels. No difference in knowledge, attitudes, and perceptions was seen between MS/MSN and DNP prepared NP’s regarding IBS diagnosis and treatment. Ninety-six percent of participants reported a need for further education regarding IBS.Reported knowledge deficit regarding appropriate care for IBS patients is an important finding, because this deficit may be related to unnecessary office visits and increased healthcare costs. Further research is warranted to examine these potential outcomes. Participants reporting non-adherence to international clinical guidelines for IBS is a key finding. No significant relationship between NP years of experience and IBS knowledge was found, although there has been reported high frequency of annual primary care visits for IBS. Study participants (98%) recognized their need for additional IBS education, thus making the case to develop and test targeted educational interventions.
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