Purpose: To evaluate the knowledge base and clinical practices of nurse practitioners (NPs) within the states of Illinois and California regarding malignant melanoma.
Data sources: Data sources included responses to a 57-item self-administered questionnaire and 15-item demographic survey. A convenience sample of 93 certified NPs from Illinois and California, aged 27–68 years, participated in the study. Participants responded to questions relating to knowledge of malignant melanoma preventive measures, risk factors, barriers to performing malignant melanoma assessments, and lesion recognition.
Conclusions: Overall, the NPs in this study demonstrated adequate knowledge about malignant melanoma but conducted general skin and malignant melanoma assessments less than half of the time and provided patient teaching about preventive measures and risk factors only occasionally. While California NPs demonstrated significantly greater knowledge about malignant melanoma than the Illinois NPs, they performed less skin and malignant melanoma assessments and provided less teaching. The most frequently cited barrier to performing malignant melanoma examinations for both states was time constraints.
Implications for practice: NPs can play a pivotal role in reducing the morbidity and mortality of malignant melanoma through competent skin assessments and patient education and encouraging patients to pursue healthy lifestyles. Improving NPs’ assessment skills and knowledge about malignant melanoma, however, is critical to achieving this goal.