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Educational gaps among healthcare providers: An institution needs assessment to improve pain management for postsurgical patients

Marlís González-Fernández, MD, PhD, Hanan Aboumatar, MD, MPH, Deena Conti, RN, MS, Amit M. Patel, MD, Michael A. Purvin, MD, Marie Hanna, MD


Objective: Nurses should be educated in pain management because they are more likely than other healthcare professionals to educate patients about their pain. The authors sought to identify the knowledge gaps in postoperative pain management among postsurgical nursing staff and the existence of institutional policies and educational programs to support them in delivering optimal pain management services.

Setting: Academic hospital.

Participants: Two hundred seventy-seven registered nurses, nurse practitioners, nurse managers, physician assistants, and other health professionals.

Interventions: Nurses participated in an online, anonymous survey that consisted of 43 questions in two broad categories: (1) knowledge and attitudes about pain management and (2) institutional pain management and assessment.

Main Outcome Measure: Knowledge base of surgical nursing staff regarding postoperative pain management.

Results: The overall mean knowledge score was 44.84 percent, with the highest percent of correct answers in the cancer pain category (54.03 percent). Recognition of signs and symptoms of pain had the lowest correct response rate (40.91 percent). Forty-nine percent of respondents reported that pain management protocols tailored to the specific population treated were available, 42 percent reported that patient pain education was always performed, 29 percent reported that they received regular training about pain management, and 17 percent had access to national pain management guidelines.

Conclusion: The survey results demonstrate general gaps in pain management knowledge among nurses, particularly in recognizing signs and symptoms of pain. This work may guide the development of programs that improve postoperative pain management by increasing the frequency of nurses' pain education and improving the availability of pain-related policies and protocols.


acute pain management, knowledge and attitudes, analgesia, pain management education, quality improvement

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