Nursing Education Interventions for Managing Acute Pain in Hospital Settings: A Systematic Review of Clinical Outcomes and Teaching Methods

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Abstract

The objective of this review was to examine the effects of nursing education interventions on clinical outcomes for acute pain management in hospital settings, relating interventions to health care behavior change theory. Three databases were searched for nursing education interventions from 2002 to 2015 in acute hospital settings with clinical outcomes reported. Methodological quality was rated as strong, moderate, or weak using the Effective Public Health Practice Project Quality Assessment Tool for quantitative studies. The 12 eligible studies used varied didactic and interactive teaching methods. Several studies had weaknesses attributable to selection biases, uncontrolled confounders, and lack of blinding of outcome assessors. No studies made reference to behavior change theory in their design. Eight of the 12 studies investigated nursing documentation of pain assessment as the main outcome, with the majority reporting positive effects of education interventions on nursing pain assessment. Of the remaining studies, two reported mixed findings on patient self-report of pain scores as the key measure, one reported improvements in patient satisfaction with pain management after a nursing intervention, and one study found an increase in nurses' delivery of a relaxation treatment following an intervention. Improvements in design and evaluation of nursing education interventions are suggested, drawing on behavior change theory and emphasizing the relational, contextual, and emotionally demanding nature of nursing pain management in hospital settings.

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