Background. This study is part of a larger questionnaire survey concerned with the views of nursing staff on physical, emotional and spiritual support for terminally ill patients and decision making on the transition to the terminal phase of treatment.
Aim. This article discusses the results concerning the prevalence of physical pain in patients and with problems in pain management.
Methods. A total of 328 nurses working on the inpatient wards of 32 municipal health centres in finland took part. Data were collected with multiple-choice items and one open-ended question, which were part of a larger structured questionnaire. The data were analysed by means of the SPSS statistical software and content analysis.
Findings. Dying patients often suffered from pain, which was most commonly because of cancer. Intractable pain was common. The problems of pain management concerned attitudes and qualifications related to treating pain, the assessment of the pain, pain management per se and the organization of pain management.
Conclusion. The study highlights the need to increase pain education, discussion and agreement on the principles of pain management in municipal health centres in Finland.