• disfigurement;
  • burns;
  • head and neck cancer;
  • psychosocial issues;
  • rehabilitation;
  • lay-led;
  • organization;
  • voluntary;
  • nurses’ role training;
  • health professionals;
  • pre–post test evaluation

Psychosocial rehabilitation after disfiguring injury or disease: investigating the training needs of specialist nurses

Aim of this study. To investigate the training needs of specialist nurses working with patients who have disfiguring conditions.

Background. As the psychosocial impact of disfiguring illness and disease becomes more widely recognized and understood, there are increasing issues about who can provide this kind of input. Whilst nurses have been identified as the health professionals who are often the most appropriate to fulfil this role, there is less evidence that they feel confident in their skills to provide it. The volume of requests from health professionals, particularly nurses, to a lay-led organization specializing in facial disfigurement suggested both an acknowledgement of the importance of providing psychosocial support to this population, together with a perceived lack of skill in this area.

Design/Method, Study 1. This study used a cross-section design. Two groups of nurses working either in burns or in head and neck cancer were surveyed by questionnaire.

Results, Study 1. Both the burns group and head and neck group rated their skills in the social rehabilitation of their patient group as significantly lower than their skills in physical rehabilitation.

Design/Method, Study 2. Using a multiple baseline design, a pilot intervention consisting of a specifically focused resource pack and 1-day training course was delivered to eight head and neck cancer nurses.

Results, Study 2. Postintervention, only the targeted skills (those concerned with social rehabilitation) were rated as significantly improved. Research continues to establish the extent to which these skills are implemented by nurses in the clinical setting and passed on to patients.

Conclusions. These findings suggest that although nurses do not feel as skilled in delivering psychosocial support to patients as they do in delivering more traditional aspects of physical nursing care, they can very easily take on this role when given simple training and access to appropriate resources. This training can be provided by a lay-led organization.