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Pain Resource Nurses: Believing the Patients, Believing in Themselves

Sandra Holley
Susan C. McMillan
Susan J. Hagan
Polly Palacios
Deborah Rosenberg
ONF 2005, 32(4), 843-848 DOI: 10.1188/05.ONF.843-848

Purpose/Objectives: To describe the experience of being a pain resource nurse (PRN), discuss the influence of the PRN's role on colleagues and patient care, and explore barriers to the PRN role.

Design: Qualitative, exploratory.

Setting: A Veterans Administration hospital in the southeastern United States.

Sample: 12 nurses who received advanced training in pain assessment and management attended focus groups approximately one year after assuming the PRN role.

Methods: Two focus group sessions, each with four to eight nurses. Each nurse was asked to describe her experience. Interviews were transcribed verbatim. Data were analyzed using Spradley's domain analysis for discovering processes and themes from the transcribed data.

Main Research Variables: The experience of being a PRN, the influence of the PRN on staff and patients, and barriers to the role and pain management.

Findings: The key processes that described the PRN experience were Believing the Patients (i.e., an awareness that nurses must have to effectively manage patients' pain) and Believing in Themselves (i.e., the PRNs gained authority as experts in pain management, accepted the responsibility of being champions in pain management, and gave themselves permission to make patients comfortable).

Conclusions: The pain-training course the PRNs received enabled them to practice as confident, credible, and empowered professionals. The awareness that they acquired during the course and the year of practice allowed the PRNs to be patient advocates, role models, and educators.

Implications for Nursing: The findings of this study indicate a high level of nurse satisfaction with the PRN role. Nurses with an interest and specialized knowledge in pain assessment and management at the unit level may greatly improve patient outcomes.

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