Oncology nurse investigators from Dana-Farber discuss the value of weighted blankets in reducing patient anxiety during infusions.
Weighted blankets represent an effective tool for reducing patient anxiety during cancer treatments, according to Megan Corbett MSN, RN, NPD-BC, OCN.
“What we [experienced] was only positive patient and nurse results,” she said about her experience implementing weighted blankets at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. “What we want to do is expand the use of weighted blankets in oncology nursing care.”
Corbett, a nursing clinical specialist, recently presented on the use of weighted blankets alongside Cherice Hermann, BSN, RN, OCN; Victoria Cole, BSN, RN; Cynthia Arcieri, MS APRN OCN; and Lisa Chicko, MSN, RN, OCN. Findings were presented during the 48th Annual Oncology Nursing Society Congress.
Following the presentation, the investigators sat down with Oncology Nursing News® to discuss their research and the clinical implications for oncology nurses.
The team explained that oncology nurses often observe heightened anxiety early in a patient’s infusion treatment, and at Dana-Farber, patients often report anxiety as one of the top 3 symptoms accompanying their cancer diagnosis.
After a literature review demonstrated that the use of weighted blankets effectively reduced anxiety and had few disadvantages, her team sought to assess this intervention at their institution.
The nurse investigators received grant funding to purchase medical-grade weighted blankets that could easily be cleaned for infection control. These were offered to treatment-naïve patients between their first and second visits. Patients gave voluntary consent during their teaching visit and a confidential presurvey was issued. Nurses were educated on the blankets and voluntarily completed assessments regarding their experience.
Prior to the intervention, perceived anxiety levels among 76 patients were extreme in 7% of patients, moderate in 30%, limited in 35%, and none in 28%. Following the intervention, no patients reported extreme anxiety, 18% reported moderate, 44% reported very little, and 38% reported none. Of note, the effect of the weighted blankets were most pronounced between the first and second treatments.
Patient feedback was positive. In a patient usability survey, 35 patients noted that the device was comfortable, and 22 strongly felt that the device was comfortable. Only 1 patient stated that the device was too heavy, 30 disagreed, and 28 strongly disagree with that statement.
“It was soothing and helped with my anxiety, making me more comfortable,” one patient testimonial said. “It was relaxing, reassuring and helps with my treatment,” another noted. An additional patient reported, “It was helpful and created a calm and secure feeling.
Moreover, 100% of nurses reported that the weighted blankets were feasible and were easy to apply and carry. Any perceived inconvenience was overshadowed by seeing how much patients enjoyed the weighted blankets.
Moving forward, the nurse investigators hope more institutions will consider using weighted blankets and that this comfort strategy will become more accessible for patients with cancer.
Corbett M, Hermann C, Chicko L, Cole V, Arcieri C. Evaluating the use of weighted blankets as an anxiety reduction tool during cancer treatment. Poster presented at: 48th Annual Oncology Nursing Society Congress; April 26-30, 2023; San Antonio, TX. Accessed April 25, 2023. https://ons.confex.com/ons/2023/meetingapp.cgi/Paper/12939