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This quasi-experimental study compared the degree of satisfaction with nursing care among patients receiving post-operative pain relief via patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) and those receiving traditional intramuscular injection (IMI) regimes This study, which involved a total of 79 adult patients (mainly female) undergoing major abdominal surgery, was comprised of two main parts First, the amount of time taken by nurses to carry out pain control procedures on 11 matched pairs of PCA and traditional patients was recorded Second, all patients were asked to fill in a questionnaire regarding their satisfaction with the quality of nursing care they had received on their third post-operative day The findings indicated that PCA did save time and this time saving could improve the nursing care quality of the whole ward, though not necessarily resulting in higher satisfaction amongst those patients who used PCA Interestingly, younger and the more highly educated patients were found to be especially critical and be less satisfied with care The implications for nursing practice and management are addressed, with special emphasis placed on the notion that time saved with PCA should be used to increase patient-nurse contact and should not be used to compensate for a reduction in nursing staff