Cancer-related pain is a major cause of hospital readmission, indicating a need for improvements in helping cancer patients manage their pain at home. But research into cancer pain self-management support (SMS) needs and preferences during transitions from hospital to home is lacking.

A team of researchers sought to better understand the issue to improve pain management and potentially reduce hospital readmissions. Their findings were published in Oncology Nursing Forum.

For this study, a descriptive, cross-sectional survey of cancer patients was conducted to investigate the relationships between the difference in support that participants preferred and received, extent and management of transitional pain, and pain outcomes. The researchers enrolled 38 patients from Hartford Hospital in Connecticut, and data were collected from January through August 2020.


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Of the 38 patients, 23 were experiencing cancer pain for more than 6 months, with 15 and 16 reporting that they were “unsatisfied with cancer pain SMS” in the hospital and at home, respectively. Many were not happy with the incongruence between the cancer pain SMS that they preferred compared with what they actually received.

“Although SMS was not significantly associated with pain intensity or interference, extent of change and satisfaction with SMS were significant predictors of patient outcomes in the hospital and at home,” the researchers explained. “These results suggest many reasons for improving SMS during care transition from hospital to home.”

The researchers concluded that a better understanding of patients’ experiences and preferences can lead to improved cancer care, including during care transitions. Healthcare providers should incorporate care planning that anticipates the transition to self-management of cancer pain, which can avoid costly readmissions for pain management. They can anticipate patients’ vulnerabilities and develop appropriate interventions that would address medication dosing, side effects, and alternative options.

Study limitations included a small sample size that was homogeneous for race, marital status, and education level. Recruitment was limited to one geographic area. The study also was conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic, which limited the involvement of caregivers.

Disclosure: This research was supported by an Oncology Nursing Foundation dissertation grant from Genentech.

Reference

Anderson AJ, Starkweather A, Cong X, et al. A descriptive survey study of patient needs and preferences for cancer pain self-management support. Oncol Nurs Forum. 2022;49(1):46-57. doi:10.1188/22.onf.46-57