Open Access Article

Unequal Quality of Cancer Pain Management: Disparity in Perceived Control and Proposed Solutions

Jeanette A. McNeill

Janice Reynolds

Margaret L. Ney

perceptions, healthcare disparities, pain management
ONF 2007, 34(6), 1121-1128. DOI: 10.1188/07.ONF.1121-1128

Purpose/Objectives: To examine poverty-related and racial and ethnic disparity in cancer pain management.

Data Sources: Published articles, conference proceedings, testimony, and clinical case studies.

Data Synthesis: Disparity in the quality of cancer pain management exists resulting from interactions among patient, provider, and environmental factors. Irrespective of etiology, disparity results in inadequate management of cancer pain for vulnerable populations (poor patients, ethnic and racial group members, older adults) and is unacceptable in cancer care. Inadequate symptom management affects cancer treatment tolerance, exacerbating disparity in treatment outcomes and affecting end-of-life care.

Conclusions: Evidence-based solutions include a systems approach, quality-improvement and quality-assurance processes that expose disparities and enforce evidence-based treatment per national guidelines, and statewide comprehensive cancer planning to target pain management outcomes.

Implications for Nursing: Oncology nurses and interdisciplinary teams must be aware of disparities in cancer pain management for vulnerable groups, intervene to empower patients through customized educational approaches, and simultaneously implement systemwide strategies to ensure effective pain management and targeted monitoring for high-risk patients.

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