The following article features coverage from ONS Bridge 2020. Click here to read more of Oncology Nurse Advisor‘s conference coverage.

Oncology nurses showed significant improvement in their knowledge of pain management in the outpatient oncology setting following participation in an educational initiative focused on this topic. These findings were presented on the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) Bridge, a virtual conference.

Cancer-related pain is common and can be acute or chronic. The origin of pain in the setting of cancer may be tumor-related or it can be a consequence of a specific type of cancer treatment.

With the growing trend toward delivery of cancer care in an outpatient setting, such as oncology urgent care clinics, the need to provide effective pain management to outpatients with cancer has also grown.

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Nevertheless, “lack of knowledge regarding pain management approaches and attitudes about pain in the setting of cancer have limited provision of quality care,” stated Keira Hobbs, BSN, RN, OCN, at Baptist Health Lexington, in Lexington, Kentucky, who described this initiative and its associated findings.

“Educational [program] content included information about cancer pain and treatments, organizational policy, and opioid equianalgesia,” Ms Hobbs explained.

Some of the specific topics covered included nonpharmacologic interventions for managing pain, as well as policy documentation and policy reassessment regarding cancer pain management in an outpatient setting.

Of the 23 oncology nurses participating in the initiative, the mean age was 47.3 years, and the mean length of oncology nursing experience was 12.4 years. Approximately 40% of study participants had a BSN degree.

Based on results of an investigator-developed questionnaire designed to measure knowledge of pain management approaches, as well as level of confidence and comfort regarding the implementation of these approaches, that was administered prior to and following the program, participants’ mean knowledge scores increased significantly from 55.4 to 92.4 (range 0-100; P <.001) when pre- and posttest scores were compared.

Although similar comparisons did not show significant changes in levels of confidence or comfort regarding pain management, mean pretest scores were high in these areas. 

“Improved preparation of oncology nurses has the potential to optimize pain management and patient quality of life while also decreasing healthcare costs, and adverse effects by preventing potential emergency visits and hospitalizations,” stated Ms Hobbs in her concluding remarks.


Hobbs K. Cancer pain education. A nursing education intervention in outpatient oncology. Presented at: ONS Bridge; September 8-17, 2020. Accessed September 8, 2020.