Characteristics of effective interventions supporting quality pain management in Australian emergency departments: an exploratory study

Australas Emerg Nurs J. 2012 Feb;15(1):23-30. doi: 10.1016/j.aenj.2011.11.003. Epub 2012 Jan 21.


Background: It is well established that pain is the most common presenting complaint in Emergency Departments. Despite great improvements in available pain management strategies, patients are left waiting for longer than 60min for pain relief on arrival to the emergency department. The aim of this study was to describe interventions that lead to successful implementation of the National Health and Medical Research Council approved guidelines Acute Pain Management: Scientific Evidence (2nd Edition) that include specific recommendations for best practice pain management.

Methods: A two-phased, mixed-method, exploratory study of all 52 Australian hospital emergency departments participating in the National Emergency Care Pain Management Initiative incorporating interview and document analysis was undertaken.

Findings: Interventions used by clinicians to improve pain management included nurse initiated analgesia, intranasal fentanyl for paediatric patients and lignocaine, and facio illiaca block. Education formed a major part of the intervention and the development of a working group of key stakeholders was critical in the successful implementation of change. Staff perceptions of patients' pain level and attitudes toward pain assessment and pain management were identified as barriers.

Conclusion: This study highlighted how an effective framework to plan and implement practice change and tailored interventions, including education and training systems and products using the best available evidence, best equipped clinicians to manage pain in the ED.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analgesia / statistics & numerical data
  • Analgesics / therapeutic use
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Disease Management
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Pain / epidemiology
  • Pain / prevention & control*
  • Pain Management / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pain Measurement / methods*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Analgesics