A national survey of nurse training: Confidence and competence in educating patients commencing methotrexate therapy

Sandra Robinson, Andrew Hassell, Sarah Ryan, Nicola Adams, David J. Walker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction - Methotrexate is routinely used to treat active disease in inflammatory arthritis. There have previously been patient safety concerns associated with methotrexate usage in practice. Most patients commencing methotrexate treatment are seen by the rheumatology nurse, to receive education (often referred to as drug counselling) on this agent prior to starting treatment. Yet, there are no recommended criteria regarding education or experience to ensure minimum competence of the rheumatology nurse. The objectives of the present survey were, firstly, to identify the relevant training experience of rheumatology nurses who provide methotrexate education and, secondly, to explore their confidence and competence in undertaking this role.

Method - A national electronic survey of rheumatology nurses, identified via the Royal College of Nursing Rheumatology Forum, national meetings and personal contacts, in order to access nurses who counsel patients on methotrexate, was carried out.Results - A total of 104 nurses completed the survey. Reported training was highly variable, ranging from very little to having undertaken MSc courses. Knowledge of the drug was rated as the most important requirement. Confidence was largely very good and was reported to develop with experience, with 80% of participants reporting being confident after 1 year in the role. A small number of participants (four) indicated that they were ‘not at all confident’. Aspects of competence and knowledge were assessed using questions on clinical situations; knowledge appeared to be good, with the exception of a question on shingles. Confidence correlated with knowledge (r = 0.21; p = 0.05), amount of training (r = 0.24; p = 0.03) and most strongly with time in the role (r = 0.74; p = 0.00001). The amount of training correlated with confidence but not with knowledge. All participants used written information, often using more than one source, with 87% of participants favouring the Arthritis Research UK information leaflet on methotrexate.

Conclusions -There was a wide variety of training for this role. Confidence seemed to come with experience, training and knowledge, and took many months to develop. A training package in this area may be helpful. Reassuringly, confidence and knowledge were related.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281-292
JournalMusculoskeletal Care
Issue number3
Early online date29 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2017


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