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Keywords:

  • Chronic-pain;
  • Nursing-beliefs;
  • Pain management

Abstract

Background and Aim It is widely accepted that chronic pain is best treated by a multidisciplinary team. Team approaches are best facilitated if all members understand their own and each others role. Roles and responsibilities have inherent values and beliefs which need to be understood if the team is going to function optimally. Little is known about the attitudes and beliefs of the pain team or the individual professionals within it. All members of the pain team therefore need to critically examine the values and beliefs they bring to these teams. The aim of this study was to start this process for nurses. This was done uniquely by: finding out what components of pain management nurses endorse as important; investigating their beliefs about pain management; and exploring whether nurses' beliefs differ in relation to other service providers.

Method Data from 103 nurses was extracted from a wider research study of the congruence between what service providers and service users believe to be important treatments for chronic pain. Nurses were surveyed regarding their opinions about which specific treatments or treatment components they would endorse for people with chronic pain. Skevington's Beliefs About Pain Control Questionnaire (BPCQ) was also included. This measured beliefs in three crucial areas; the internal or personal control of pain, beliefs that powerful others (doctors) control pain and beliefs that pain is controlled by chance events. Statistical comparisons were made between nurses who endorsed particular treatments and their belief pattern. Differences between nurses and other professionals and service users were explored.

Results The study showed that nurses were high treatment endorsers. There was universal agreement to the importance of ‘The nurse', ‘The multidisciplinary team', ‘relaxation', and ‘psychological assessment’ for chronic pain management'. Nurses' endorsement patterns were different to the other professionals, because they endorsed more treatments. BPCQ scores were consistently lower than the other professionals and the service users.

Conclusions The findings of this study are congruent with emerging literature highlighting the complexity of health care. The high endorsement patterns seen in this study could be taken as support that nurses are, either tacitly or overtly, aware of this need to approach pain management in an open-minded and flexible manner.