Current Pain Management Issues among Acute Care Nurses

Wednesday, 14 July 2010: 11:40 AM

Kelly D. Allred, PhD
College of Nursing, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL

Learning Objective 1: Describe 3 barriers reported by acute care nurses that prevent optimal pain management in the acute care setting.

Learning Objective 2: List 3 nonpharmacologic interventions used by acute care nurses in the routine care of patients having pain.

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to use qualitative methods to explore current issues concerning pain management among acute care nurses. Quantitative research methods are often used in pain management research, which offers little understanding of why, despite the advancement in pain relieving technologies, the prevalence of pain has not changed significantly over several decades. This research allows the design of interventions to improve pain management to be based on the real experiences and needs of nurses today.
Methods: Consent was obtained, and individual interviews with acute care nurses were done.  A consistent set of questions was used to explore pain management issues in the acute care setting. The sample included direct care nurses (n=12) from several medical and surgical units. All interviews were recorded and transcribed. Content analysis was done to analyze the data. Concepts that were recurring were extracted from the data, followed by the generation of themes, which was done by grouping similar phenomena into conceptual clusters. This data analysis process was performed for each of the interviews.
Results: The issue of time as a barrier to optimal pain management was identified. Also identified was the lack of the use of nonpharmacologic pain relief strategies by nurses.  The participants tended to not know or understand that their pain management practice they described was not based on current evidence.  Additional information was not consistent among participants, but provided insight into the everyday management of pain in the acute care hospital. 
Conclusion: These results support the need for a new way to educate nurses how to optimally manage acute pain. Using an innovative methodology to deliver education, such as an interactive computer-based simulation, may increase nurse participation and knowledge retention, with greater potential to change practice and ultimately impact the pain experience of those in acute care hospitals.