Evaluation of a Cancer Pain Education Module

Gail M. Wilkes

Kathryn E. Lasch

Jennifer C. Lee

Annabel Greenhill

Giuseppina Chiri

ONF 2003, 30(6), 1037-1043. DOI: 10.1188/03.ONF.1037-1043

Purpose/Objectives: To assess whether a case-based cancer pain education module would lead to acquisition and retention of knowledge and attitudes at the graduate nursing student level.

Design: Quasi-experimental pretest, post-test, and follow-up.

Setting: Three nursing schools in the New England area.

Sample: 92 graduate nursing students.

Methods: An oncology nurse specialist delivered seven two- to fourhour seminars integrated in existing pharmacology, primary care, or adult health courses. Participants' cancer pain knowledge was assessed at four time points with a paper-and-pencil test: before the seminar, immediately after, and approximately 6 and 24 months after the seminar.

Main Research Variable: Cancer pain knowledge.

Findings: The intervention was effective in improving students' knowledge of cancer pain management and assessment (p = 0.0001), and the effect was retained at 6 and 24 months (p = 0.0001 and p = 0.0024, respectively).

Conclusions: Policymakers, clinicians, and professional organizations have recommended providing cancer pain education during professional training to overcome the continuing problem of the undertreatment of cancer pain. The education module used was effective in changing students' knowledge of cancer pain management, and the results suggest that this knowledge is lasting.

Implications for Nursing: Early cancer pain education for nurses may play an important role in improving pain control for patients with cancer. Although this study did not evaluate the application of cancer pain knowledge to clinical practice, the results support the notion that advanced practice nurses can improve their cancer pain management knowledge and attitudes while in training. One implication is that this shift in attitudes and knowledge will translate to effective management of pain in varied healthcare settings.

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