Pain management has become a notable feature of public health policy and mass media communication in France over the past few years. To assess the evolution of the knowledge and attitudes of the French population with respect to pain management and morphine use, telephone surveys using similar questionnaires were conducted in 1990 (n = 1001) and 1996 (n = 1006). The proportion of respondents who would take pain management adequacy into consideration when selecting a surgical facility increased from 52% to 81% (P < 0.001), as did the proportion who associated morphine with pain treatment (from 44% to 80%; P < 0.001) or who would not be afraid of becoming addicted to morphine after it had been prescribed for pain relief (from 26% to 69%; P < 0.001). However, the proportion of respondents who agreed that morphine can be prescribed to patients with pain increased only slightly. In 1996, 58% of the respondents believed that their knowledge had improved over the past 5 yr and associated this improvement first with television, followed by written press articles and by interaction with physicians. Increased awareness of pain management possibilities among the public may generate increased demand on health professionals to provide adequate and precise information addressing each patient's needs.
Implications: The results of two representative surveys conducted over a 6-yr interval show significant improvements of knowledge and attitudes regarding pain and its management in the French general population. However, these results point to the need for additional specific information that should be provided through patient-physician interactions.