Inadequate treatment practices for pain relief and adverse event management in cancer patients across 10 countries/regions in Asia: a call for greater efforts to improve standards for patient care

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Abstract

Aim

To examine the treatment practices for cancer pain relief and adverse event management, and the factors related to patient outcomes in the participating countries/regions.

Methods

The study was a cross-sectional survey conducted between September and December 2013 in 10 countries/regions across Asia. Adult patients with a history of cancer pain at least 1 month before study entry completed the survey questionnaire.

Results

A total of 1190 patients were included. The mean Box Scale-11 (BS-11) pain score was 6.0 (SD 2.1), with 86.2% experiencing moderate-to-severe pain and 53.2% receiving opioids at time of the survey. The mean BS-11 scores were 5.3 (SD 2.1) in the “others” (single non-opioid medication or untreated) group, 6.3 (SD 2.0) in the ≥2 non-opioids group and 6.7 (SD 1.9) in the opioid group. The proportions of patients experiencing moderate-to-severe pain were 79.1%, 87.3% and 93.7%, respectively. About 70% of patients reported adverse events due to their pain medications, about half had received medications to manage these symptoms. Adverse events were negatively associated with activities of daily living (P < 0.0001). Pain and hindrance to activities of daily living were negatively associated with employment status (P = 0.003 and 0.021). Unemployment was significantly associated with poorer quality of life (P < 0.0001).

Conclusion

This analysis demonstrates inadequate management of cancer pain and treatment-related adverse events in the participating cohort. Pain and inadequate management of adverse events were negatively associated with patients’ overall well-being. More collaborative efforts should be taken to optimize pain treatment and increase awareness of adverse event management in physicians.

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