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Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Graduate Nursing

First Advisor

Sharon Hofland


pain treatment, South Dakota nurse attitudes, analgesia


The purpose of this survey was to describe nurses' knowledge and attitudes toward principles of pain management. The framework was based on a modification of Becker's Health Belief Model. A 25-item questionnaire was mailed to nurses selected via a systematic random sampling of every fourth registered nurse in South Dakota. The descriptive analysis is based on the 624 nurses who returned the completed tool. The findings indicated that nurses have a knowledge deficit in pharmacokinetics (e.g., opioid ceiling effect, morphine's effect on respiratory depression, equianalgesic dosing, meperidine's toxic metabolite, preferred route of administration for opioids, treatment of choice for prolonged cancer pain, and duration of action of certain opioids). Approximately one-half of the nurses indicated that patients did not receive adequate treatment of cancer pain where they worked. The barrier that interfered the greatest extent to optimal pain management for the diploma, associate, and baccalaureate nurses was the patient's reluctance to report pain. The barrier that interfered the greatest extent for the master's degree nurses was inadequate physician knowledge of pain management. The findings suggest that the nurses' level of knowledge and their attitudes indicate that nurses have not acquired or have not been exposed to adequate pain management information. Pain management education courses should be offered periodically. Additionally, nursing curriculum about pain management needs to be improved and the faculty, themselves, must acquire current pain management information so that student nurses are prepared to deliver quality care.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Pain -- Treatment
Nurses -- South Dakota -- Attitudes



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


Copyright © 1996 Judy Sibilrud. All rights reserved