Date of Award


Level of Access Assigned by Author

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




Patricia Poirier

Second Committee Member

Ann Sossong

Third Committee Member

Ambie Hayes-Crosby


The purpose of this study was to examine the knowledge and attitudes of oncology nurses in Maine and how they regard cancer patients with drug-seeking behaviors. The sample surveyed consisted of nurses (n=59) employed in outpatient oncology clinics associated with three of the major hospitals in Maine. The 48 question survey was adapted form the Nurses' Knowledge and Attitudes Survey Regarding Pain by Ferrell & McCaffrey (1998) and a questionnaire developed by McCaffrey, Grimm, Pasero, Ferrell & Uman (2005) to explore the nurse's perspective of the term "drug-seeking". The sample of nurses in this study had knowledge scores that were higher than nurses from previous studies with a mean percent of 81. 9 + 6.69. Attitude questions were related to the nurses' response to the term drug-seeking and the behaviors associated with it. The mean attitude score was 3.22 +_ 0.44. There was no significance noted when knowledge and attitude scores were compared. The response to the term drug-seeking was negative, yet the majority (82.4%) of nurses indicated that they use the term drug-seeking in talking about their patients, and 59% still feel comfortable using the term after completing the survey. While there are still knowledge deficits regarding pain management in cancer patients, especially those with special considerations, the results of this study are positive, considering the higher scores in knowledge among these Maine oncology nurses. More education on substance abuse, opioid use and changes in attitude may be beneficial to nurses working in outpatient settings. Further studies will assist nurses to identify effective interventions.