Purpose: Caring for people with cancer or an intellectual disability (ID) is stressful: little is known about the combined impact of caring for cancer patients with an ID, though this is expected to be especially challenging. Method: Eighty-three nurses, working in oncology or a related field (i.e. palliative care) were recruited. Perceptions of caring for patients with and without an ID were measured, alongside potentially confounding information about participant demographic characteristics and perceived stress. Results: Participants felt less comfortable communicating with patients with an ID about their illness (F(1,82) = 59.52, p < 0.001), more reliant on a caregiver for communication (F(1,82) = 26.29, p < 0.001), and less confident that the patient's needs would be identified (F(1,82) = 42.03, p < 0.001) and met (F(1,81) = 62.90, p < 0.001). Participants also believed that caring for this patient group would induce more stress, compared with patients without an ID (F(1,81) = 31.592, p < 0.001). Previous experience working with ID patient groups appears to mitigate some perceptions about providing care to this population. Conclusions: Caring for cancer patients with an ID may intensify this, already difficult, role. Through training and knowledge exchange, oncology nurse's confidence in communication, providing appropriate care, and positivity towards this patient group may be improved.
- Intellectual disabilities
- Oncology nurses