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Canadian nurses, cardiac surgery, pain knowledge, patient outcomes



  1. Leegaard, Marit PhD, CRNA, RN
  2. Watt-Watson, Judy PhD, RN
  3. McGillion, Michael PhD, RN
  4. Costello, Judy MSc, RN
  5. Elgie-Watson, Jeanne MA(Ed), RN, CCN(C)
  6. Partridge, Kim BSc, RN, MDE


Background and Research Objective: Inadequate knowledge among health care providers is a key barrier to good pain management, and nurses have a major role to provide education to patients. The purpose of this study was to identify nurses' learning needs to prepare patients for managing pain before and after discharge home from cardiac surgery. The overall aim is to develop a pain education intervention for nurses working with cardiac surgical patients.


Subject and Methods: This was a focus groups study. Participants (N = 22) were asked about their perceptions of patients' education needs for pain management after cardiac surgery and approaches to help nurses meet these needs. The Pain Beliefs Scale was used to capture nurses' own misbeliefs about pain that would need clarification in a successful pain education intervention.


Results: Nurses identified pain management challenges in the hospital, particularly related to patients' age, patient concerns about the use of opioids, the need to use multiple management strategies, and preparing patients to manage pain at home. Pain Beliefs Scale scores were low related to opioid dosing and adverse effects. Participants identified their most helpful educational approaches being brief in-services, hands-on learning, lunch-and-learn sessions, and designated education days.


Conclusion: Participants identified the most common pain knowledge gaps for patients before and after discharge after cardiac surgery. These data will be used to develop an education intervention for nurses to help their cardiac surgery patients with more effective pain management strategies before and after discharge home.