Evaluating Pain Management Practices for Cancer Patients among Health Professionals: A Global Survey

J Palliat Med. 2022 Aug;25(8):1243-1248. doi: 10.1089/jpm.2021.0596. Epub 2022 Apr 18.


Background: Cancer incidence in the world is predicted to increase in the next decade. While progress has been in diagnosis and treatment, much still remains to be done to improve cancer pain therapy, mainly in underserved communities in low-income countries. Objective: To determine knowledge, beliefs, and barriers regarding pain management in both high- and low-income countries (according to the WHO classification); and to learn about ways to improve the current state of affairs. Design: Descriptive survey. Setting/Subjects: Fifty-six countries worldwide; convenience sample of 1639 consisted of 36.8% physicians; 45.1% nurses, and 4.5% pharmacists employed in varied settings. Results: Improved pain management services are key elements. Top barriers include religion factors, lack of appropriate education and training at all levels, nonadherence to guidelines, patients' reluctance to report on pains, over regulation associated with prescribing and access to opioid analgesics, fear of addiction to opioids, and lack of discussions around prognosis and treatment planning. Conclusion: The majority of patients with cancer in low-income countries are undertreated for their pain. Promoting cancer pain accredited program of training and education on pain management for physicians and nurses is crucial, as well as advocating policymakers and the public at large.

Keywords: cancer; global; management; opioids; pain.

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use
  • Cancer Pain* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms* / complications
  • Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Pain / etiology
  • Pain Management
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'


  • Analgesics, Opioid