Relationship between nurses' pain knowledge and pain management outcomes for their postoperative cardiac patients

J Adv Nurs. 2001 Nov;36(4):535-45. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2648.2001.02006.x.


Nurses' knowledge and perceived barriers related to pain management have been examined extensively. Nurses have evaluated their pain knowledge and management practices positively despite continuing evidence of inadequate pain management for patients. However, the relationship between nurses' stated knowledge and their pain management practices with their assigned surgical cardiac patients has not been reported. Therefore, nurses (n=94) from four cardiovascular units in three university-affiliated hospitals were interviewed along with 225 of their assigned patients. Data from patients, collected on the third day following their initial, uncomplicated coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery, were aggregated and linked with their assigned nurse to form 80 nurse-patient combinations. Nurses' knowledge scores were not significantly related to their patients' pain ratings or analgesia administered. Critical deficits in knowledge and misbeliefs about pain management were evident for all nurses. Patients reported moderate to severe pain but received only 47% of their prescribed analgesia. Patients' perceptions of their nurses as resources with their pain were not positive. Nurses' knowledge items explained 7% of variance in analgesia administered. Hospital sites varied significantly in analgesic practices and pain education for nurses. In summary, nurses' stated pain knowledge was not associated with their assigned patients' pain ratings or the amount of analgesia they received.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Analgesics / therapeutic use
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Cardiac Surgical Procedures / nursing*
  • Clinical Competence*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Ontario
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pain, Postoperative / nursing*


  • Analgesics