10.1016/j.nedt.2020.104540 ">

Undergraduate nursing students' pharmacology knowledge and risk of error estimate

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Nurse Education Today


© 2020 Elsevier Ltd Background: In the United States alone, medication error causes injury to approximately 1.3 million people every year. Frequently, nurses have been blamed for the high rates of medication administration errors. Factors associated with medication error by nurses are categorized as personal, contextual and knowledge-based. There is evidence in the literature that showed nurses have insufficient knowledge in pharmacology. Purpose: The overall purpose of this study was to estimate the risk of error based on the combined scores on pharmacology knowledge and self-rated certainty scores of undergraduate nursing students. Method: A cross-sectional and correlational study was conducted. Students enrolled in an undergraduate nursing program who completed or were currently taking the pharmacology course were eligible for the study. Based on power analysis, a sample of 156 students was needed to reach 80% power with a level of significance of 0.05. A 42-item Pharmacology Knowledge Questionnaire (PKQ) test was administered, and students were asked to provide their level of certainty for each of their answers. Risk of error was calculated based on the combined scores in PKQ and self-rated certainty scores. Results: 147 nursing students, 83% females with a mean age of 24 (SD = 5) years, participated in the study. Mean score in the PKQ was 25 (SD = 3.51) out of 42 items, which is equivalent to a grade of 60% (with a calculated weighted mean grade of 56%). Drug calculation was the subject area where students had the lowest mean score. Mean overall risk of error for all 42 items in the PKQ was 1.7 (SD = 0.14), on a scale of 0–3. This means that, on average, high risk of error was noted in 14% of the students who rated incorrect answers with high certainty. Positive correlations were noted between age and pharmacology score, and between when pharmacology course was last taken and risk of error. A negative correlation was noted between when pharmacology course was last taken and pharmacology score.

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