Master's Theses



Degree Name

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)


This study examined the level of attitudes toward and knowledge about pain management among practicing nurses at a rural Midwestern hospital. The literature reflects that nurses ineffectively manage patients’ pain due to inappropriate fears of addiction, respiratory depression, rigid attitudes regarding adequate pain relief, and misunderstandings about the physiological and psychological components of pain. The purpose of this investigation was to examine the level of knowledge of the nurses and identify any areas that might be opportunities for increased knowledge in the area of pain and pain management. Two theories guided the investigation. 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 that 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 nurses at a rural Midwestern hospital. Demographic information was collected in conjunction with a tool developed by McCaffery (1987) testing knowledge and attitudes regarding pain management. Descriptive and inferential statistics were used to examine the scores of nurses and Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) was performed to confirm there was no relationship between nurses’ years of experience, age, or educational level and his/her attitudes toward our knowledge about pain. The nurses (N=48) scored 29.04 on the tool. Participants in this study scored slightly higher than results from previous studies. Mean percentage for the test score was 74% compared to Clarke’s et al. study where the mean score was 62%. This clinical setting has policies and resources in place regarding the management of pain; it would appear that they are not optimal. Findings still indicate that nurses lack knowledge in pain management. Correcting this lack of information with factual knowledge will assist in developing the nurse’s knowledge base and improve the understanding of pain management. Recommendations are presented for increasing nurses’ knowledge about pain management and disseminating pain information.


Mary R. Hassett

Date of Award

Spring 1999

Document Type

Thesis - campus only access


© 1999 Jolene M. Glavin


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