Nursing students' knowledge and attitudes regarding pain.Pain Manag Nurs. 2006 Dec; 7(4):167-75.PM
The presence of pain is one of the main reasons why people seek health care, yet pain is often undertreated. Inadequate treatment has been linked to health care workers' failure to assess pain and to intervene appropriately. It may also result from the limited attention given to pain management in nursing curricula. This descriptive study explored nursing students' knowledge and attitudes about pain management. The Nurses' Knowledge and Attitude Survey Regarding Pain was used to collect data from clinical nursing students. The sample (n = 313) was obtained from approximately one fourth of the baccalaureate of science in nursing and associate degree in nursing programs in Louisiana. Data analysis revealed misconceptions about analgesic administration and duration, along with an exaggerated fear about the incidence of addiction among patients. Knowledge of pharmacology items was lower than that of nonpharmacology items. When faced with a clinical scenario that required an initial assessment of a patient's pain, most students responded appropriately. However, when the situation required reassessment based on the patient's response to the student's chosen intervention, a majority of them responded incorrectly. Overall, students in the baccalaureate degree programs scored significantly higher (65% correct) than students in the associate degree in nursing programs (60.8% correct) (t  = -3.321, p = .001). However, the combined mean score for both groups was 64%, indicating inadequate knowledge of pain management. Despite major initiatives by accrediting agencies, statewide Pain Initiatives, and professional organizations, knowledge of pain management is still inadequate. Nursing faculty need to critically review their curricula to determine whether students are being taught in-depth and up-to-date pain management information that incorporates evidence-based research and current standards of care.