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July 2021

Management of pain and pain-related symptoms in hospitalized veterans with cancer

Author(s): Tittle, M., Hagan, S., Laughlin, J.

Journal/Book: Cancer Nurs. 2000; 23: 530 Walnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19106-3621, USA. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. 327-336.

Abstract: Unrelieved pain continues to be a problem among hospitalized patients with cancer. The purpose of this study was to evaluate pain management outcomes in a group of veterans with cancer receiving inpatient care. The sample consisted of 90 veterans with cancer hospitalized in one of two large veterans medical centers in the southeastern United States. Daily pain was assessed by administering the visual analog scale (VAS) for pain three times in a 24-hour period and averaging these three scores. The Brief Pain inventory (BPI) and Constipation Assessment Scale (CAS) were administered once. The charts were audited using the Chart Audit for Pain (CAP). The sample was predominantly male (93.3%) and white (82.8%). The length of time since diagnosis ranged from newly diagnosed during this hospitalization to 16 years. Average daily pain was 32.9 on the VAS and 4 on the BPI. However, approximately one-fourth of the patients reported average daily pain above the midpoint (VAS > 50), and some patients reported average daily pain to be as high as 98. Fewer than half of charts (42%) showed evidence that a pain rating scale was used. Other assessment data also were very limited. Patients reported that pain interfered with all activities on the BPI, with highest interference scores for walking and sleep (mean, 5.5). Although 80% of the patients reported some problem with constipation, the chart audit indicated that this was recorded in only 11 patient records. No patient records indicated a problem with sedation. The findings indicate that limited attempts were made to manage pain using nonpharmacologic methods. In addition, only one of the nine charts reporting these attempts showed evidence that results from the attempt were evaluated. It may be concluded that pain management continues to be less than ideal in these veterans hospitals. Study results indicate that nurses are not documenting careful assessment of pain, not documenting evaluation of approaches to pain management, and not attending to the constipation that is inevitable when opioids are administered. Continued emphasis on nursing education related to pain management is needed. Future research should be undertaken to evaluate these outcomes.

Note: Article McMillan SC, Univ S Florida, Coll Nursing, MDC 22, 12901 Bruce B Downs Blvd, Tampa,FL 33612 USA

Keyword(s): cancer pain; pain assessment; pain management; pain-related symptoms; veterans; RELIABILITY; STRATEGIES; ADDICTION; SEVERITY; SCALES; ANALOG


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