Knowledge and attitudes of health-care providers toward cancer pain management: a comparison of physicians, nurses, and pharmacists in the state of New Hampshire

J Pain Symptom Manage. 1998 Jun;15(6):335-49. doi: 10.1016/s0885-3924(98)00023-2.

Abstract

The knowledge and attitudes toward cancer pain management of physicians, nurses, and pharmacists in the state of New Hampshire were examined through the use of a statewide survey. Many of the providers who completed the survey, and thus indicated that they treated patients with cancer pain on a regular basis, were not pain or oncology specialists. Most of these providers were quite well informed about the fundamentals of cancer pain management. Approximately 90% of providers in all three groups were not concerned about addiction among cancer patients. Yet, there was a small percentage of providers who responded in less than optimal ways to items dealing with opioid pharmacology, pain assessment, and the importance of pain relief. Comparison of responses among provider groups indicated that nurses were the most knowledgeable and pharmacists the least knowledgeable about pain assessment. Physicians were the most knowledgeable regarding opioid pharmacology but seemed the least committed to providing optimal pain relief. Further analysis identified a small group of physicians that included a disproportionately high percentage of family practitioners and surgeons who consistently responded in less than optimal ways to items dealing with the importance of pain relief. The results of this study indicate a continuing need for broad-based educational programs in cancer pain management and for new initiatives focused on practitioners who see relatively few cancer patients and may have difficulty accessing traditional educational programs.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Data Collection
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / complications*
  • New Hampshire
  • Nurses
  • Pain, Intractable / drug therapy*
  • Pain, Intractable / psychology
  • Pharmacists
  • Physicians