An investigation into pain in cancer patients

Robinson, Rowan Paula
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Introduction: Nurses play an important role in cancer treatment delivery, patient information and symptom management, as well as psychological and supportive care. As nurses spend the greatest portion of time caring for patients, they are ideally placed to routinely assess the patient’s pain and response to treatment. Purpose: The purpose of the study was to provide baseline data that could be used to develop a patient informed pain assessment instrument used by nurses practicing in cancer care settings for South African cancer patients. Objectives: The first objective of the study was to explore which pain assessment instruments are available to assess cancer pain, their characteristics and comparison against the criteria of an ideal instrument. The second objective was to describe how cancer patients experience and describe their pain and what they consider essential for nurses to know about their pain. Methods: A sequential multi-method study was conducted in two parts: a scoping review and in-depth interviews were used to gather data. Findings: None of the nineteen identified instruments met the criteria of an ideal pain assessment instrument, and even the ideal criteria as provided by the African Palliative Care Association (2010) and Farrer (2007), appeared to be incomplete and should be updated. The study provided evidence of the participants’ experience of cancer pain and what brings relief from the pain. They described their need for information and communication as well as support and compassionate care. Finally participants described what nurses need to know about their cancer pain experience. Conclusion: Cancer pain is complex, with physical, emotional and psychosocial factors having a profound influence on the unique and personal experience of cancer pain. The successful management of cancer pain is dependent on thorough assessment, re-assessment, measurement of pain intensity, interpretation of findings and appropriate treatment of the pain including both pharmacological and non-pharmacological options
A dissertation submitted to the Faculty of Science, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science, 2020
Robinson, Rowan Paula (2020) An investigation into pain in cancer patients, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, <>