Nursing Students' Knowledge and Attitudes Regarding Pain
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Introduction and Purpose: Poorly managed or unmanaged pain is a problem that affects individuals, entire healthcare systems and societies throughout the world. Although national and international practice guidelines exist for the management of both acute and chronic pain, it remains problematic. Nurses are key contributors to interprofessional pain management teams, and are involved in both the assessment and management of pain. It is important to understand pain knowledge and attitudes amongst nursing students before they enter independent practice. The purpose of this study was to examine final year, pre-registration nursing students’ knowledge and attitudes about the assessment, treatment and management of pain. Methods: Using a cross-sectional, descriptive design, 336 final year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BScN) and Practical Nursing (PN) students were recruited through convenience sampling to complete the Knowledge and Attitudes Survey Regarding Pain (KASRP). The KASRP score is calculated by percentage score and 80% or higher is considered a passing score, which indicates adequate knowledge and attitudes towards pain. Results: The mean KASRP score (SD) was 66.7% (9.1). English as participants’ primary language, attending School A, and having prior experience caring for someone in pain were independently associated with a statistically significant increase in mean KASRP scores (p<.05). Major areas of weakness in pain knowledge and attitudes were related to understanding populations at risk of respiratory depression after receiving an opioid, dosage calculations, medication administration and pharmacology. Strengths in knowledge and attitudes involved determining the best judge of an individual’s pain, the reliability of self-report of pain in children, and symptoms of withdrawal from opioid medications. Conclusion: Further research is needed to understand the provincial and national levels of pain knowledge and attitudes of nursing students in other programs in Ontario and Canada. As well, as a follow up study to examine knowledge and attitudes once students have been in practice to determine if further learning occurs in clinical practice.