Introduction: Nursing roles are changing, as several countries have amended legislation so that nurses can make referrals for medical imaging examination that utilize ionising radiation. Nevertheless, nurses' radiation knowledge remains a poorly studied concept. The aim of the study was to characterize Finnish nurses' knowledge of radiation use and radiation safety. In this study, nurses were working in operating theaters, first aid clinics and cardiology laboratories.
Methods: A cross-sectional design was applied in which data were simultaneously collected from nurses working in eight hospitals. All nurses working in operating theaters, first aid clinics and cardiology laboratories (N = 1500) at the hospitals in Finland were invited to participate in the study. The response rate was 17% (n = 252). The employed Healthcare Professional Knowledge of Radiation Protection (HPKRP) scale included three areas of knowledge: radiation physics, biology and principles of radiation use; radiation protection; and guidelines of safe ionizing radiation use. Descriptive statistics and logistic regression analyses were used to identify factors that influence these three areas.
Results: Nurses reported high knowledge levels in radiation protection but low knowledge levels in radiation physics, biology and principles of radiation use. Moreover, nurses who had not received radiation education reported lower knowledges across all three areas than the nurses who had completed education.
Conclusion: This study identified one major factor that significantly affects nurses' radiation knowledge, namely, having completed medical radiation education, as this factor positively influenced all three of the included areas of radiation knowledge factors. Therefore, healthcare organizations should concentrate on providing education to all nurses working with, or exposed to, radiation.
Keywords: Education; Ionising radiation; Knowledge; Nurse; Radiation protection; Safety.
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