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Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Graduate Nursing

First Advisor

Sharon Leech-Hofland


pain treatment, pain nursing, nurse attitudes


Although nurses often provide care to patients with chronic pain, many do not Fully utilize non-pharmacologic interventions that are useful in the management of chronic pain. The problem under investigation was to determine what constitutes nurse's perception of issues related to non-pharmacologic pain relieving techniques for chronic pain management. The objectives of the study were to 1) describe nurse's perceptions regarding non-pharmacologic interventions for chronic pain management, 2) describe nurse's self-reported use or nonuse of nonpharmacologic interventions, and 3) compare the nurse's perception regarding selected patient, health professional, and institutional barriers to chronic pain management with selected educational or practice area attributes. The research design utilized a survey, non-experimental approach. The purposive sample consisted of 98 Registered Nurses practicing in-patient and out-patient facilities in two rural Midwestern communities. Generally, a vast majority of nurses perceived chronic pain management as a problem; and that pain management was considered fair to good in their areas of practice. Heat/cold application, massage, and relaxation therapy were considered the most helpful in chronic pain. Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) and cognitive/behavioral therapy were considered less helpful. A majority of nurses thought that all of the nonpharmacologic interventions were not included enough in chronic pain management. However, approximately half of the nurses thought that other nurses in their area would be willing to use nonpharmacologic interventions. Most nurses use heat/cold therapy and massage, at least 20% of the time. However, a majority of nurses use TENS, relaxation therapy, and cognitive/behavioral therapy a minimal amount of time for chronic pain. Lastly, statistical testing with Chi-square indicated that a nurse's education level may influence a nurse's perception of certain patient, health professional, and institutional barriers to nonpharmacologic interventions, perceptions of effectiveness, and time spent using nonpharmacologic interventions for chronic pain management. However, major practice area has variable effects on a nurse's perceptions that time or equipment availability decreases the use of nonpharmacologic interventions for chronic pain. Implications of this study include the need to educate Registered Nurses in educational institutions and through continuing education on the benefits, procedures, and limitations of nonpharmacologic interventions for chronic pain. Institutions should develop ways to implement guidelines for pain management programs. Barriers must be identified in order to develop solutions for implementing nonpharmacologic interventions for chronic pain. And, patients, families, and other health professionals should be educated on the potential role of nonpharmacologic interventions in chronic pain management.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Pain -- Treatment
Pain -- Nursing
Nurses -- Attitudes



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


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