Master's Theses



Degree Name

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)


This study examined the level of knowledge and attitudes regarding pain management among practicing ADN prepared nurses and nursing students in the last year of nursing school in Associate degree programs. The literature reflects that nurses ineffectively manage patients pain due to inappropriate fears of addiction, respiratory depression, rigid attitudes regarding adequate pain relief, and misunderstanding about the physiological and psychological components of pain. The purpose of this study was to examine the level of knowledge between the two groups and identify any areas that might be opportunities for increased knowledge in the area of pain and pain management. Two theories guided the study. The first was the “gate control theory of pain” (Melzack, 1973), and the second was Erickson, Tomlin and Swain’s (1983) theory of modeling and role-modeling. Each of these theories supported the idea that each individual’s pain is unique to that person, and the nurse must accept the patient’s report of pain and intervene based on the client’s perspective. Data was collected from three southwest Kansas community colleges and the acute care facility in each of those towns. Demographic information was collected in conjunction with a tool developed by McCaffery (1987) testing knowledge and attitudes regarding pain management. Descriptive statistics were used to examine the scores for each group and ANOVA was performed to confirm there was no significant difference between the two groups scores. The practicing nurses (N=56) scored 69.125 on the tool and the nursing students (N=56) scored 69.017. The participants in this study hold some of the “standard” incorrect beliefs on addiction and respiratory depression, which may stem from misinformation and attitudinal bias. Findings do indicate, however, that nurses lack information in pain management that is not necessarily tied to myths or bias. Correcting this lack of information with factual knowledge will assist in developing the nurse’s knowledge base and improve the understanding and practice of pain management.


Mary R. Hassett

Date of Award

Spring 1997

Document Type

Thesis - campus only access


© 1997 Denise R. Conant


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