Functional Goals and How Palliative Patients With Cancer Managed Pain

Published:March 12, 2022DOI:



      High rates of pain impede quality of life for persons with advanced cancer. Research has identified barriers to cancer pain control. Little has been written, however, about the unique motivating goals and individual pain management behaviors of persons with cancer-related pain.


      To describe motivating factors and pain management behaviors used.


      Quantitative content analysis.


      Outpatient palliative care Participants: 27 persons with cancer pain.


      We analyzed deidentified audio recordings from participants who had completed motivational interviewing interventions to discuss functional pain goals. We organized data into a priori conceptual categories: (1) Pain as an Obstacle, (2) Life with Controlled Pain, (3) What Helped Pain Before, (4) Suggestions Used to Control Pain, and (5) Patient Help-Seeking. Unique behaviors, attitudes, and personal states were counted and organized categorically.


      Medians for discussed concepts ranged from 0.5-3 occurrences across a sample of 108 interviews. The least discussed concept was Help-Seeking and the most frequently discussed was Controlled Pain based on personal motivations.


      Current cancer pain assessment tools do not capture the unique complexities of cancer pain motivating behaviors, or personal functional goals, and thus hinder nurses’ capacity to provide tailored care across patient encounters. Until a measure with specificity to capture unique patient goals is developed, nurses must rely on their own skills to comprehend if and how motivating factors could benefit individual cancer pain management plans.
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