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Nurses’ knowledge and skills in colonoscopy patients’ pain management


  • Ylinen Eeva-Riitta MNSc, RN,

  • Vehviläinen-Julkunen Katri PhD, RN,

  • Pietilä Anna-Maija PhD, RN

Ylinen Eeva-Riitta
Department of Nursing Science
University of Kuopio
Telephone: +358445585274 (Mobile)


Aim.  This study aimed to describe the knowledge and skills of nurses in managing pain during colonoscopy procedures.

Background.  Colonoscopy is a procedure to diagnose diseases of the intestine, and patients consider it even painful. However, few studies have described patients’ pain management during the colonoscopy procedure.

Design.  A quantitative survey design was used. The data were collected from colonoscopy nurses with a self-completed semi-structured questionnaire developed for the study.

Methods.  The hospitals performing colonoscopies in Finland, with the exception of the ones where the questionnaire was pilot-tested, were included in the study (n = 12). The optional sample was drawn by mailing questionnaires (n = 147) to endoscopy units to be filled in by three colonoscopy nurses during 2002. The response rate was 79% (n = 116).

Results.  The majority of nurses used versatile non-pharmacological methods of managing pain and had practice-based knowledge of pain management during the colonoscopy procedure, but pain education and the acquisition of new professional knowledge were rarely reported. Pain scales were not in use and ethical conversation was lacking among the endoscopy staff in most (95%) hospitals.

Conclusion.  The study showed that colonoscopy nurses used numerous non-pharmacological methods, but only rarely acquired professional knowledge. There was a lack of pain scales and ethical conversation in the participating endoscopy units.

Relevance to clinical practice.  The results can be used to improve the treatment of pain during colonoscopy procedures and endoscopy nurses’ education. Nurses should be motivated by education and ethical conversation. Future studies should aim to analyse patients’ own evaluation of pain during the colonoscopy procedure. The applicability of the existing pain scales and non-pharmacological methods should be tested in practice.