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Knowledge, perceptions and practices of members of the health care team involved in stem cell transplantations in the Western Cape
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Stem cell transplantation has become one of the standard methods of treatment for patients with malignant and benign blood disorders. The multidisciplinary team interacting with these patients and their families, must be knowledgeable concerning the appropriate quality health care. The objectives of the study were to explore the knowledge of the members of the health care team in terms of the processes that need to be adhered to with stem cells transplantation, as well as exploring the perceptions amongst the health care team members and their reactions towards patients undergoing stem cell transplantation. An exploratory research design with a qualitative approach was employed. Data collection took place at two stem cell transplant units in the Western Cape, using non-probability purposive sampling technique. The health care team members included a medical doctor, dietician, physiotherapist, social worker, radiographer and nursing staff. Data was collected by face-to-face personal interviews which were transcribed and analysed by using coding and thematic analysis. The majority of the professional participants could identify the processes for stem cell transplantation, which affirmed their knowledge. The non-professional health care team member, could also identify the types of methods and processes of stem cell transplantation. Participants stated that the health care team members had passion for this treatment option. Some participants felt it to be emotionally challenging to work in the environment, especially with paediatric patients and the dying. However, some health care team members could detach themselves emotionally from the patients. The team stated that the stem cell transplanted patients need special care to overcome all challenges experienced, but were positive about treatment. It is evident that management of stem cell transplanted patients is complicated and the health care team members must have knowledge, skills and the appropriate attitude to practice in these units. This study emphasised how vital it is that stem cell transplantation be included in the training programs of the multidisciplinary team. Health care practitioners in the field must stay abreast with stem cell research in order to effectively conduct health promotions for patients and staff. In addition, hematology and transplant awareness campaigns should also be conducted in order to educate society and suggest referrals if necessary.