Hospice and Hospital Oncology Unit Nurses: A Comparative Survey of Knowledge and Attitudes About Cancer Pain

cancer-related pain, knowledge, attitudes
ONF 2000, 27(10), 1593-1599. DOI:

Purpose/Objectives: To identify knowledge strengths and weaknesses and misperceptlons about cancer pain management between two groups of registered nurses in different settings.

Design: Descriptive, comparative survey.

Setting: 11 community-based hospices and 7 Inpa­tient hospital oncology units within an urban county.

Sample: A convenience sample of 30 hospice and 34 hospital oncology unit nurses. Sample criteria in­cluded registered nurses who had worked for at least the preceding six months exclusively in either a hospice or hospital oncology unit. 

Methods: The North Carolina Cancer Pain Initiative survey and a demographic survey were distributed to the work mailboxes of nurses in the participating facilities who met the inclusion criteria. 

Main Research Variables: Hospice and hospital on­cology unit nurses' knowledge and attitudes about basic phormacologlc cancer pain management. 

Findings: Hospice nurses scored significantly higher than hospital oncology unit nurses regarding overall pain management knowledge, opioids. scheduling. and liberalness. Hospice nurses also reported more pain education and a higher frequency of pain guideline review requirements than hospital oncology unit nurses.

Conclusions: The most prevalent knowledge deficits concerned opioids. Practice setting and pain educa­tion may influence knowledge, as well as attitudes, about pain.

Implications for Nursing Practice: Further research Is needed regarding nurses' pain management behavior and outcomes of pain management education in vari­ous settings. 

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