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Improving cancer nurses’ pain screening and assessment practices through online intervention

This Australian study examined the value of an online educational intervention on the competence of cancer nurses’ pain assessment.

Almost half of patients with cancer experience moderate to severe cancer pain, with more than one quarter experiencing grave discomfort.

Such incessant and insistent cancer pain can be distressing, depressing and incapacitating; however, while it is recognised that robust and rigorous regular screening and assessment should lead to more effective care planning and intervention, such measures are often poorly undertaken.

This Australian study examined the value of an online educational intervention on the competence of cancer nurses pain assessment and its effect on their observance of clinical guidelines.

Participants were either registered or enrolled nurses employed in one of five cancer services in New South Wales. They were emailed 11 short-spaced learning clinical case scenarios, which they answered consecutively, only accessing the successive sections of the module after the preceding content had been addressed. This activity was combined with the provision of

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Almost half of patients with cancer experience moderate to severe cancer pain, with more than one quarter experiencing grave discomfort.


Picture: iStock

Such incessant and insistent cancer pain can be distressing, depressing and incapacitating; however, while it is recognised that robust and rigorous regular screening and assessment should lead to more effective care planning and intervention, such measures are often poorly undertaken.

This Australian study examined the value of an online educational intervention on the competence of cancer nurses’ pain assessment and its effect on their observance of clinical guidelines.

Participants were either registered or enrolled nurses employed in one of five cancer services in New South Wales. They were emailed 11 short-spaced learning clinical case scenarios, which they answered consecutively, only accessing the successive sections of the module after the preceding content had been addressed. This activity was combined with the provision of feedback and access to resources regarding pain assessment and screening practices.

The participants’ perception of their capability was measured at three intervals. The final data sample comprised 44 participants who completed the third survey data collection point.

The results suggested that over the time of the study the participants increased their knowledge of pain assessment, the tools with which to undertake the assessment, the number and quality of assessment, and the self-assurance in completing an assessment, with a modest improvement in adherence to clinical guidelines.


Phillips JL, Heneka N, Hickman L et al (2017) Pain Management Nursing 18, 2, 75-89. doi: 10.1016/j.pmn.2017.01.003

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