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brain tumor, inpatient, pain, postoperative, qualitative, quality



  1. Foust Winton, Rebecca E. PhD, RN, CCRN-K
  2. Draucker, Claire B. PhD, RN, FAAN
  3. Von Ah, Diane PhD, RN, FAAN


Purpose/Aims: The aim of this study was to describe how persons given a diagnosis of a brain tumor who have had a craniotomy describe the quality of their pain after surgery.


Design: A qualitative descriptive design was used.


Methods: Qualitative descriptive methods as described by Sandelowski guided this study. Semistructured interviews were conducted with patients hospitalized on a neurological step-down unit in an urban teaching hospital in the Midwestern United States. Interviews focused on the quality of participants' pain after surgery. Narratives were analyzed using standard content analysis.


Results: Twenty-seven participants were interviewed. Most were White and female. Most underwent a craniotomy using an anterior approach with sedation. Participants described the quality of their pain with 6 different types of descriptors: pain as pressure, pain as tender or sore, pain as stabbing, pain as throbbing, pain as jarring, and pain as itching.


Conclusions: Participants' descriptions of their pain quality after surgery provide a different understanding than do numerical pain ratings. Clinicians should use questions to explore patients' individual pain experiences, seeking to understand the quality of patients' pain and their perceptions.