Purpose: This project was created to improve prostate cancer education at VA Palo Alto Health Care System (VAPAHCS) and to explore Veterans’ knowledge about their diagnosis and its treatment. Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed form of cancer in the VA and makes up one-third of all cancer cases in Veterans. Clinical experiences in our outpatient Urology-Oncology clinic suggested that Veterans may benefit from additional information about tumor stages, risk factors, and treatment options. Thus, a quality improvement project was conducted in order to measure baseline knowledge.
Methods: Veterans diagnosed with prostate cancer completed a survey to determine baseline knowledge. Surveys were conducted by a psychology trainee or social worker during regularly scheduled Urology-Oncology appointments. After completing the survey, Veterans were provided with written educational materials and had the option of watching a brief educational video on a tablet in their exam room.
Data Analysis : Descriptive statistics were used to analyze demographic information and to determine Veteran’s baseline levels of knowledge.
Results: 26 Veterans completed the survey between March and June 2018. 25 participants identified as male; one as a transgender female. Average age was 74 years, with a range from 63-88 years. 65% identified as white, 12% as black or African American, 12% Hispanic, and 11% unknown. Average time since diagnosis was 7.3 years, with a range from 0-21 years. 92% of Veterans knew what type of cancer they were diagnosed with, 62% were familiar with the different stages of prostate cancer, 54% were familiar with the risk factors for developing prostate cancer, 77% knew what their treatment options were, and 88% felt comfortable asking their doctor questions about their cancer and its treatment.
Implications: These results indicate that Veterans are well informed about the type of cancer they have been diagnosed with and are comfortable communicating with their doctor, but are less familiar with tumor stages, risk factors, and treatment options. This suggests that additional resources for prostate cancer education are warranted in our clinics. Future directions include the
development of additional educational programs within the VAPAHCS and incorporating assessment of Veteran knowledge during clinic visits.