Our research teams have conducted several studies on pain education programs for cancer patients. In addition to results that show that pain education decreases pain levels, we found that cancer patients who received pain education reported a significant improvement in their level of satisfaction with physicians and nurses for pain management. More important, greater satisfaction with pain management was also related to better analgesic adherence. Our study findings1,2 indicate it is important for healthcare providers to consider patient satisfaction when designing strategies intended to improve patient and family adherence to pain management regimens in a clinical setting. Patient satisfaction with pain management regimens is a significant factor that influences medication adherence.
Our studies detail how healthcare providers provide pain education programs that contribute to improving patient satisfaction with pain management. Long-term engagements consisting of multiple face-to-face visits for systematic pain education provide patients with an opportunity to discuss how pain management should be implemented. Such interactions provide an opportunity to maintain open communication about the outcomes of pain management and to develop trust between cancer patients and clinicians.
Over the past decade, hospital-based physicians and nurses have consciously worked to improve their communication with cancer patients. Basically, the nurse-patient relationship sets the tone for the care experience and has a significant impact on patient satisfaction. Nurses spend a significant amount of time with patients during their stay in the hospital; therefore, patients observe nurses’ interactions with other staff members and draw conclusions about the hospital based on their observations.3 In addition, nurses’ attitudes toward their work, their coworkers, and the organization affect patient and family judgment. Communication between a nurse and a patient is often the most significant factor influencing patients’ overall ratings of their hospital experience. Quality of communication in nursing also has the greatest impact on patients’ likelihood to recommend a hospital. In addition to overall hospital care quality, patient perceptions of satisfaction are being used increasingly to measure the quality of pain management. The Quality Assurance Committee of the American Pain Society proposed an approach to measuring patient satisfaction as part of their first standards published in 1991. The patient–healthcare provider relationship is essential to cancer pain management satisfaction.
My concern with patient satisfaction goes beyond cancer patients’ recommendation of the hospital and beyond indicators for quality of care. Patient satisfaction has an important role in improving analgesic adherence in patients with cancer. This change in adherence behavior could ultimately result in improvements for managing cancer-related pain and thus overall quality of life for cancer patients. Patient satisfaction is not only a customer relations issue; it is an issue central to health for cancer patients.
My very best to you,
–Chia-Chin Lin, PhD, RN
Editorial Board Member
Cancer Nursing: An International Journal of Cancer Care
1. Lin CC, Chou PL, Wu SL, Chang YC, Lai YL. Long-term effectiveness of a patient and family pain education program on overcoming barriers to management of cancer pain. Pain. 2006; 122: 271–281.
2. Chou PL, Rau KM, Lin CC. Development and psychometric testing of a short version of the Barriers Questionnaire-Taiwan form for cancer patients. Int J Nurs Stud. 2011; 48: 1071–1079.