Purpose of review: To describe the current position of educational interventions within the context of cancer pain management.
Recent findings: Barriers to good cancer pain control exist within patients and professionals and centre on lack of knowledge or poor attitudes towards pain and opioid analgesia. Education provided to healthcare professionals increases knowledge and improves attitudes but this does not necessarily translate into improvements in patient outcomes. However, targeted interventions that modify professional behaviour are effective. Educational interventions directed at patients result in improved patient outcomes, although the mechanisms by which these improvements occur are not yet clear.
Summary: Overall, educational interventions directed at patients or professionals can result in significant but modest clinical benefit which is similar in magnitude to that achieved by some analgesics. Educational interventions should be part of routine clinical practice alongside optimal oncological and analgesic management. Further work is needed on how best to implement multicomponent interventions within clinical services, including the identification of which combinations are most cost effective.