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      Evaluation of knowledge of cancer pain management among medical practitioners in a low-resource setting

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          Several factors considered to be barriers to cancer pain management have been reported in the past. The knowledge of cancer pain management may be a hindrance to the proper assessment and treatment of pain in cancer patients.


          This report presents an evaluation of the knowledge and practice of cancer pain management among medical practitioners in Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Shika, Zaria.


          This report involves medical practitioners at the Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital who are directly involved in the management of cancer patients. Information was obtained using a structured questionnaire, and the data were analyzed using SPSS (version 11.5).


          The response rate to the questionnaire was 82%, with an age range of 23 to 50 years (mean age, 34.9), and the majority of actual respondents, 55 (67%), were male. Thirty-six (44%) strongly agreed that cancer patients require pain relief. Yet only 40% of the respondents routinely conducted pain assessments among cancer patients, while 51% only treated when patients complained of pain. Concerning the type of analgesic commonly used for cancer patients, 43% used weak opioids, 32% used NSAIDs, and only 20% used strong opioids. Seventy-five respondents (91.5%) had no formal training on pain management.


          The knowledge of pain management for cancer patients among medical personnel at the Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital appears to be elementary. We recommend that formal training in the form of lectures, seminars, and workshops on cancer pain management should be part of continuing medical education in low-resource settings like the Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital.

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          Most cited references 33

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          Physician attitudes and practice in cancer pain management. A survey from the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group.

          The Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) conducted a groupwide survey to determine the amount of knowledge about cancer pain and its treatment among physicians practicing in ECOG-affiliated institutions and to determine the methods of pain control being used by these physicians. Survey. A questionnaire was sent to all ECOG physicians with patient care responsibilities (medical oncologists, hematologists, surgeons, and radiation therapists), practicing in university institutions, Community Clinical Oncology Program (CCOP) institutions, and Cooperative Group Outreach Programs (CGOP) institutions. A physician cancer pain questionnaire developed by the Pain Research Group at the University of Wisconsin was used. The questionnaire was designed to assess physicians' estimates of the magnitude of pain as a specific problem for cancer patients, their perceptions of the adequacy of cancer pain management, and their report of how they manage pain in their own practice setting. The study analyzed responses to 897 of 1800 surveys. In regard to the use of analgesics for cancer pain in the United States, 86% felt that the majority of patients with pain were undermedicated. Only 51% believed pain control in their own practice setting was good or very good; 31% would wait until the patient's prognosis was 6 months or less before they would start maximal analgesia. Adjuvants and prophylactic side-effect management should have been used more frequently in the treatment plan. Concerns about side-effect management and tolerance were reported as limiting analgesic prescribing. Poor pain assessment was rated by 76% of physicians as the single most important barrier to adequate pain management. Other barriers included patient reluctance to report pain and patient reluctance to take analgesics (both by 62%) as well as physician reluctance to prescribe opioids (61%). Professional education needs to focus on the proper assessment of pain, focus on the management of side effects, and focus on the use of adjuvant medications. A better understanding of the pharmacology of opioid analgesics is also needed. Physicians also need to educate patients to report pain and to effectively use the medications that are prescribed for pain management.
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            Symptoms during cancer pain treatment following WHO-guidelines: a longitudinal follow-up study of symptom prevalence, severity and etiology.

            Most patients with advanced cancer develop diverse symptoms that can limit the efficacy of pain treatment and undermine their quality of life. The present study surveys symptom prevalence, etiology and severity in 593 cancer patients treated by a pain service. Non-opioid analgesics, opioids and adjuvants were administered following the WHO-guidelines for cancer pain relief. Other symptoms were systematically treated by appropriate adjuvant drugs. Pain and symptom severity was measured daily by patient self-assessment; the physicians of the pain service assessed symptom etiology and the severity of confusion, coma and gastrointestinal obstruction at each visit. The patients were treated for an average period of 51 days. Efficacy of pain treatment was good in 70%, satisfactory in 16% and inadequate in 14% of patients. The initial treatment caused a significant reduction in the average number of symptoms from four to three. Prevalence and severity of anorexia, impaired activity, confusion, mood changes, insomnia, constipation, dyspepsia, dyspnoea, coughing, dysphagia and urinary symptoms were significantly reduced, those of sedation, other neuropsychiatric symptoms and dry mouth were significantly increased and those of coma, vertigo, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, intestinal obstruction, erythema, pruritus and sweating remained unchanged. The most frequent symptoms were impaired activity (74% of days), mood changes (22%), constipation (23%), nausea (23%) and dry mouth (20%). The highest severity scores were associated with impaired activity, sedation, coma, intestinal obstruction, dysphagia and urinary symptoms. Of all 23 symptoms, only constipation, erythema and dry mouth were assessed as being most frequently caused by the analgesic regimen. In conclusion, the high prevalence and severity of many symptoms in far advanced cancer can be reduced, if pain treatment is combined with systematic symptom control. Nevertheless, general, neuropsychiatric and gastrointestinal symptoms are experienced during a major part of treatment time and pain relief was inadequate in 14% of patients. Cancer pain management has to be embedded in a frame of palliative care, taking all the possibilities of symptom management into consideration.
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              High prevalence of pain in patients with cancer in a large population-based study in The Netherlands.

              At present, no definite conclusions can be drawn about the real extent of the pain suffered by cancer patients. A population-based study was conducted to obtain reliable information about the prevalence and severity of pain in cancer patients (all phases) and about predictors of pain. A representative sample of cancer patients was recruited in the area from a cancer registry. Pain was assessed by the Brief Pain Inventory (BPI). Adequacy of pain treatment was assessed with the Pain Management Index (PMI). We found that 55% of the 1429 respondents had experienced pain past week; in 44% (n=351), the pain was moderate to severe (BPI score>or= 4). Total prevalence of pain/moderate to severe pain was present in 49%/41% in patients with curative treatment >or=6 months ago, 57%/43% in patients with current curative treatment or treatment <6 months ago, 56%/43% in patients with current palliative anti-cancer treatment and in 75%/70% in patients for whom treatment was no longer feasible. Positive predictors of the prevalence of pain were lower education level, more advanced disease and haematological (excluding (non)-Hodgkin lymphoma), gastro-intestinal, lung, or breast malignancies. According to the PMI, analgesic treatment was inadequate in 42% of the patients. Negative predictors of adequate treatment were current curative anti-cancer treatment and low education level. A substantial proportion of cancer patients does suffer from moderate to severe pain and does not receive adequate pain treatment.

                Author and article information

                J Pain Res
                J Pain Res
                Journal of Pain Research
                Dove Medical Press
                07 February 2013
                : 6
                : 71-77
                [1 ]Department of Anesthesia, Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Shika, Zaria, Nigeria;
                [2 ]Department of Surgery, Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Shika, Zaria, Nigeria
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Elizabeth Ogboli-Nwasor Department of Anesthesia, Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Shika, Zaria, Nigeria Tel +23 480 3701 0020 Email drnwasor@ 123456yahoo.com
                © 2013 Ogboli-Nwasor et al, publisher and licensee Dove Medical Press Ltd

                This is an Open Access article which permits unrestricted noncommercial use, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Original Research

                Anesthesiology & Pain management

                medical practitioners, knowledge, evaluation, management, cancer pain


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