Aim. To explore nurses’ knowledge and barriers regarding pain management in intensive care units.
Background. Pain is a common and treatable condition among intensive care patients. Quality care of these patients depends on the pain knowledge and pain management skills of critical care nurses. However, no single study has explored these nurses’ knowledge of and perceived barriers to pain management in Taiwan.
Design. A cross-sectional study.
Method. Intensive care unit nurses (n = 370) were recruited from 16 hospitals chosen by stratified sampling across Taipei County in Taiwan. Data were collected on nurses’ knowledge of pain management using the Nurses’ Knowledge and Attitudes Survey-Taiwanese version, on perceived barriers to pain management using a researcher-developed scale and on background information.
Results. The overall average correct response rate for the knowledge scale was 53·4%, indicating poor knowledge of pain management. The top barrier to managing pain identified by these nurses was ‘giving proper pain prescription needs doctor’s approval; can’t depend on me’. Knowledge of pain management was significantly and negatively related to perceived barriers to pain management. In addition, scores for knowledge and perceived barriers differed significantly by specific intensive care unit. Knowledge also differed significantly by nurses’ education level, clinical competence level (nursing ladder) and hospital accreditation category.
Conclusion. Our results indicate an urgent need to strengthen pain education by including case analysis for intensive care nurses in Taiwan.
Relevance to clinical practice. Pain education should target knowledge deficits and barriers to changing pain management approaches for Taiwanese nurses in intensive care units.