Pain Management Knowledge and Attitudes of Baccalaureate Nursing Students and Faculty

Published:November 09, 2010DOI:


      Pain affects approximately 76 million adults in the US. Though pain management has been targeted as a top priority, it continues to be inadequately addressed. Nursing faculty are in a unique position to significantly address the problem through facilitating the acquisition and utilization of knowledge by student nurses. The purpose of this study was to determine the knowledge of and attitudes toward pain in baccalaureate nursing students and faculty to establish a foundation for a systematic and comprehensive integration of pain content in the curricula. The descriptive design included a sample of 162 junior and senior students enrolled in a baccalaureate nursing program in Texas and 16 nursing faculty. The Knowledge and Attitudes Survey Regarding Pain (KASRP) was used to measure knowledge and attitudes toward pain. A direct correlation was found between the level of education and the percentage correct score. Differences found in knowledge and attitudes among the three levels of students and faculty were significant (df = 3.173; F = 14.07, p < .001). Senior students nearing graduation scored only 68% (SD = 6.8) with faculty scoring only slightly better with a mean of 71% (SD = 13). Significant differences also were found in assessment of pain through case scenarios of a patient who was smiling and talking as compared to a patient who was lying quietly and grimacing (X2 = 37.13, p < .05 (df = 24). Reevaluation of the way pain assessment and treatment are taught is indicated. Further studies are needed to assess changes in knowledge and attitudes toward pain as curricular revisions are made.
      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Purchase one-time access:

      Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access
      One-time access price info
      • For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
      • For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'


      Subscribe to Pain Management Nursing
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect


      1. American Academy of Pain Medicine (2009). Retrieved on August 25, 2009, from

      2. American Pain Foundation (2007). Retrieved on June 12, 2009, from

        • Comley A.
        • Banks C.
        Pain management: Clinician survey and institutional needs assessment.
        Baylor University Medical Center Proceedings. 2000; 13: 230-235
        • Duignan M.
        • Dunn V.
        Perceived barriers to pain management.
        Emergency Nurse. 2009; 16: 31-35
        • Driver L.
        From the chairman.
        in: Petty H.R. McCoy B. Holcomb L. The politics of pain: Balancing vigilance and compassion. Austin, TX: American Cancer Society, Lance Armstrong Foundation, Texas Medical Association, Texas Pain Society, TxPEC, 2007
        • Ferrell B.
        Ethical perspectives on pain and suffering.
        Pain Management Nursing. 2005; 6: 83-90
        • Ferrell B.R.
        • McCaffery M.
        Nurses' knowledge about equianalgesia and opioid dosing.
        Cancer Nursing. 1997; 20: 201-212
      3. Ferrell, B., & McCaffery, M (2008). Knowledge and attitudes survey regarding pain. Retrieved on April 12, 2009, from City of Hope Web site:

        • Ferrell B.R.
        • McGuire D.B.
        • Donovan M.I.
        Knowledge and beliefs regarding pain in a sample of nursing faculty.
        Journal of Professional Nursing. 1993; 9: 79-88
        • Glajchen M.
        Chronic pain: Treatment barriers and strategies for clinical practice.
        Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine. 2001; 14: 211-218
        • Goodrich C.
        Students' and faculty members' knowledge and attitudes regarding pain management: A descriptive survey.
        Journal of Nursing Education. 2006; 45: 140-142
        • Greiner L.
        • Burh B.
        • Phelps D.
        • Ward S.
        A palliative care needs assessment of health care institutions in Wisconsin.
        Journal of Palliative Medicine. 2003; 6: 543-556
        • Gunnarsdottir S.
        • Donovan H.S.
        • Serlin R.C.
        • Voge C.
        • Ward S.
        Patient-related barriers to pain management: The Barriers Questionnaire (BQ-II).
        Pain. 2002; 99: 385-396
        • Huang N.
        • Cunningham F.
        • Laurito C.E.
        • Chen C.
        Can we do better with postoperative pain management?.
        The American Journal of Surgery. 2001; 182: 440-448
        • Joshi G.P.
        • Ogunnaike B.O.
        Consequences of inadequate postoperative pain relief and chronic persistent postoperative pain.
        Anesthesiology Clinics of North America. 2005; 23: 21-36
        • Lasch K.
        • Greenhill A.
        • Wilkes G.
        • Carr D.
        • Lee M.
        • Blanchard R.
        Why study pain? A qualitative analysis of medical and nursing faculty and students' knowledge of and attitudes to cancer pain management.
        Journal of Palliative Medicine. 2002; 5: 57-71
        • Lebovits A.
        • Florence I.
        • Bathina R.
        • Hunko V.
        • Fox M.T.
        • Bramble C.Y.
        Pain knowledge and attitudes of healthcare providers: practice characteristic differences.
        The Clinical Journal of Pain. 1997; 13: 237-243
        • MacLellan K.
        Postoperative pain: Strategy for improving patient experiences.
        Journal of Advanced Nursing. 2004; 46: 179-185
        • McCaffery M.
        • Ferrell B.R.
        Nurses' knowledge of pain assessment and management: How much progress have we made?.
        Journal of Pain and Symptom Management. 1997; 14: 175-188
        • McCaffery M.
        • Ferrell B.R.
        Opioids and pain management—What do nurses know?.
        Nursing. 1999; 29: 48-52
        • McMillan S.C.
        • Tittle M.
        • Hagan S.
        • Laughlin J.
        • Tabler R.E.
        Knowledge and attitudes of nurses in veterans hospitals about pain management in patients with cancer.
        Oncology Nursing Forum. 2000; 27: 1415-1423
        • Middleton C.
        Understanding the physiological effects of unrelieved pain.
        Nursing Times. 2003; 99: 28-31
      4. National Center for Health Statistics (2006). Chartbook on trends in the health of Americans. Retrieved on June 12, 2009, from

      5. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (2003). Low back painfact sheet. Retrieved on June 12, 2009, from

        • Pargeon K.L.
        • Hailey B.J.
        Barriers to effective cancer pain management a review of the literature.
        Journal of Pain and Symptom Management. 1999; 18: 358-368
        • Plaisance L.
        • Logan C.
        Nursing students' knowledge and attitudes regarding pain.
        Pain Management Nursing. 2006; 7: 167-175
        • Salantera S.
        • Lauri S.
        Nursing students' knowledge of and views about children in pain.
        Nurse Education Today. 2000; 20: 537-547
      6. Strassels, S., Duke, G. Driver, L. Petty, H., & Torges, K. (2008). Knowledge, attitudes, and practices of Texas health care professionals may contribute to inadequate pain care. Presented on August 20, 2008 at the International Association for the Study of Pain. Glasgow, Scotland.

        • Strang P.
        Existential consequences of unrelieved cancer pain.
        Palliative Medicine. 1997; 11: 299-305