Core Aspects of Satisfaction with Pain Management: Cancer Patients' Perspectives

Susan L. Beck, Gail L. Towsley, Patricia H. Berry, Karen Lindau, Rosemary B. Field, Shantelle Jensen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Context: The coexistence of high levels of satisfaction and high levels of pain has been perplexing. Objectives: The aims of this study were to 1) describe patient expectations related to the experience of cancer-related pain, 2) explore the cognitive processes and meaning that underlie patient judgments about satisfaction and dissatisfaction with pain management, and 3) explore the discrepancies between ratings of high satisfaction with pain management with high pain intensity. Methods: The sample included 33 patients: 18 with advanced cancer and 15 experiencing pain after a surgery for a cancer diagnosis. All patients had experienced "worst pain" of at least moderate intensity and were interviewed using standard pain measures from the American Pain Society Patient Outcome Questionnaire and open-ended questions about the underlying meaning of their answers. We systematically analyzed the transcribed qualitative data using NVivo software. Results: Fifty-five percent of patients were females and were aged 25-78 years. Most (75%) were satisfied or very satisfied with their overall pain management. Key findings indicate that for some, the worst pain rating was often brief, even momentary. Most patients expected pain relief. Four key themes were important to the quality of pain management: being treated right, having a safety net, being in a partnership with their health care team, and having pain treatment that was efficacious. Key aspects of the patient-provider relationship that mattered were how the nurses and doctors behaved toward them and how quickly they responded to reports of pain. For some, an important factor was whether they had control of the amount of pain they experienced. Conclusion: The findings inform measurement of patient satisfaction with the quality of pain management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)100-115
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Cancer pain prevention and control
  • neoplasms
  • patient satisfaction evaluation
  • qualitative research
  • quality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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