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diabetes, diabetes self-management, patient education, survival skills



  1. Modic, Mary Beth MSN, RN, CDE
  2. Albert, Nancy M. PhD, CCNS, CCRN, NE-BC, FAHA, FCCM
  3. Nutter, Benjamin MS
  4. Coughlin, Rose MSN, RN, ACNS-BC
  5. Murray, Terri BSN, RN
  6. Spence, Jackie RN
  7. Brosovich, Deborah MA, RN, CCRN


Background: Patient education of self-care is an integral component of nursing care. Promoting self-care is important for patients with diabetes because day-to-day decision making has a tremendous impact on health.


Purpose: To examine diabetes knowledge of nurses working on medical cardiology and cardiovascular surgical intermediate care units.


Methods: In this prospective, cross-sectional, correlational study, 90 registered nurses working on medical cardiology and cardiovascular surgical units completed a 20-item survey on diabetes survival skill education. Correlational and comparative statistics were used to analyze data.


Results: Subjects (N = 90) were more often female (n = 73; 83.0%) and worked full time (n = 76; 84%); mean (SD) RN experience was 5.6 years (SD, 7.6 years). Total mean score on the Diabetes Survival Skills Knowledge Test (DKSST) was 10.4 (SD, 2.6), reflecting 50% mastery of diabetes survival skill content. Test scores were higher in nurses with greater general comfort in teaching patients about diabetes (P =.04), more years of experience as a nurse (P =.004), more years of work at the current workplace (P <.001), and more years in their current work unit (P <.001). By age, nurses in the oldest quartile (>=37 years) had higher DKSST content area scores in oral glucose-lowering agents (P =.02) and symptom management (P =.01) and had a trend toward higher overall DKSST score (P =.06) and score on blood glucose self-monitoring (P =.06). Sex, formal education level, work commitment, and previous diabetes education were not associated with higher DKSST scores.


Conclusion: Nurse's knowledge and comfort related to diabetes survival skill teaching were low. The strongest correlate of higher DKSST score was length of time as a nurse. Because previous education and other nurse characteristics were not associated with higher test scores, nurse educators and advanced practice nurses must modify education delivery modalities to improve retention of information used in the delivery of patient education about diabetes survival skills.