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Knowledge and attitudes regarding pain among surgical nurses in three teaching hospitals in Ireland


Vickers, Niamh;

Institution: Dublin City University. School of Nursing and Human Sciences
Subject Keywords: Nursing; acute pain; surgical setting; nurses' knowledge and attitudes;

Background: Excessive pain following surgery is a common entity that has been highlighted in the literature for almost 40 years. The exponential growth in the understanding of the multifarious nature of pain physiology and perception has been paralleled with significant scientific advancements in the interventional management of pain. Despite this progress, the literature remains replete with examples of patients experiencing unnecessary levels of pain following surgery. Unalleviated pain after surgery is highly prevalent and impacts negatively on patients’ morbidity and mortality. The deleterious short and long-term effects of unrelieved pain on patients are multifold. There is increasing evidence which shows that acute pain can progress into chronic pain. The literature documents that chronic pain after surgery is a common occurrence. Nurses play a crucial role in pain management and must be highly knowledgeable to ensure their practices in the management of pain are of a high quality standard.

Aim: The central purpose of this study was to determine the baseline level of knowledge and attitudes regarding pain of Irish surgical nurses working in three teaching hospitals in Dublin.

Methodology: A cross-sectional survey research design was employed into this study. A modified version of the validated ‘Nurses’ Knowledge and Attitudes Survey Regarding Pain’ (NKAS) tool and a demographic form were utilized to ascertain the knowledge and attitudes base of Irish nurses’ working in these acute surgical settings. The sample comprised a convenience sample of 94 nurses working in the acute surgical wards of the three hospitals.

Results: Results revealed that the mean percentage score overall was 65.7%. Only 3.2% of nurse participants obtained a passing score of 80% or greater. Widespread knowledge deficits and poor attitudes were noted in this study, particularly in the domain of pharmacological management of pain. Positive correlations were observed between the respondents’ score and nursing grade and level of education. Further analysis revealed respondents had an inaccurate self-evaluation of their pain management knowledge.

Conclusion: The results of this study support the universal concern of inadequate knowledge and attitudes of nurses’ regarding pain. Educational and quality improvement initiatives in pain management could enhance nurses’ knowledge base in the area of pain and possibly improve practices.



Suggested citation:

Vickers, Niamh; . () Knowledge and attitudes regarding pain among surgical nurses in three teaching hospitals in Ireland [Online]. Available from: [Accessed: 23rd July 2018].


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