Oncologist's knowledge and implementation of guidelines for breakthrough cancer pain in Spain: CONOCE study

Clin Transl Oncol. 2018 May;20(5):613-618. doi: 10.1007/s12094-017-1756-5. Epub 2017 Oct 3.


Purpose: Breakthrough cancer pain (BTcP) has been shown to be a prevalent and poor prognostic factor for oncologic patients, which remain under diagnosed and undertreated. In 2012, the Spanish Society of Medical Oncology (SEOM) published a clinical practice guideline (CPG) for the treatment of cancer pain which specifically addressed the management of BTcP.

Methods: Fundación ECO designed a qualitative study using an Internet-based survey to investigate the attitudes toward, compliance with, and use of SEOM Guideline.

Results: A total of 83 oncologists with a mean experience of 13 years responded. Overall, 82% were aware of different guidelines to manage BTcP. Notably, attitudes toward guidelines were highly positive and there was nearly unanimous agreement that CPG provided the best scientific evidence available (99%), on the minimum information to be gathered for the medical history (100%), on the need for a specific treatment for BTcP (100%), and fentanyl as the first-choice drug (99%). Interestingly, there were discrepancies between what oncologists agreed with and what they do in clinical practice. In fact, 87.6% declare full compliance with SEOM guideline, although adherence to registration of BTcP data in medical records ranged from 30.1 to 91.6% (mean 64.5%); therapeutic management compliance was higher ranging from 75.9 to 91.6%. Main barriers identified were time pressure together with vague statements and limited dissemination of the guidelines.

Conclusion: Despite oncologist's clinical practice is increasingly guided by GPC, it suffers from limited compliance, at least in part due to suboptimal statements. Improved dissemination and education are needed to enhance guideline implementation.

Keywords: Attitude of health personnel; Breakthrough pain; Clinical competence; Oncologists; Pain management; Practice guidelines.

MeSH terms

  • Breakthrough Pain / drug therapy*
  • Cancer Pain / drug therapy*
  • Guideline Adherence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Medical Oncology / statistics & numerical data*
  • Oncologists
  • Pain Management / methods*
  • Spain
  • Surveys and Questionnaires