The Influence of an Organizational Pain Management Policy on Nurses’ Pain Management Practices

Linda G. Alley

analgesics, opioid

Purpose/Objectives: To examine the influence of a formal organizational pain management policy on nurses’ pain management practices.

Design: Descriptive correlational.

Setting: Tertiary-care medical center.

Sample: 91 nurses providing direct patient care on five study units during a 72-hour study period.

Methods: Off-going nurses completed three self-administered questionnaires one-half hour before the end of each eight-hour work shift.  Opioid administration data also were collected. Data were analyzed using correlational, t test, chi-square, and analysis of variance analyses and descriptive statistics.

Main Research Variables: Nurses’ knowledge of the healthcare organization’s chronic pain management policy; nurses’ knowledge of pain and pain management; nurses’ perceived accountability for pain management activities; the ratio of actual amounts of opioid analgesics administered compared with maximum amounts ordered.

Findings: Nurses’ knowledge of pain management and their perceived accountability for pain management were significantly related to knowledge of the organization’s chronic pain management policy. Correlations were lower than expected, based on theoretical relationships proposed in the open system study framework.

Conclusions: Further research is needed to explore the influence of a high-quality pain management policy on nursing practice and clinical pain management.

Implications for Nursing Practice: Better understanding of the influence of organizational policy could lead to much needed improvements in pain management.

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