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Open Access Article

A Randomized, Clinical Trial of Education or Motivational-Interviewing-Based Coaching Compared to Usual Care to Improve Cancer Pain Management

Mary Laudon Thomas
Janette E. Elliott
Stephen M. Rao
Kathleen F. Fahey
Steven M. Paul
Christine Miaskowski
ONF 2012, 39(1), 39-49 DOI: 10.1188/12.ONF.39-49

Purpose/Objectives: To test the effectiveness of two interventions compared to usual care in decreasing attitudinal barriers to cancer pain management, decreasing pain intensity, and improving functional status and quality of life (QOL).

Design: Randomized clinical trial.

Setting: Six outpatient oncology clinics (three Veterans Affairs [VA] facilities, one county hospital, and one community-based practice in California, and one VA clinic in New Jersey)

Sample: 318 adults with various types of cancer-related pain.

Methods: Patients were randomly assigned to one of three groups: control, standardized education, or coaching. Patients in the education and coaching groups viewed a video and received a pamphlet on managing cancer pain. In addition, patients in the coaching group participated in four telephone sessions with an advanced practice nurse interventionist using motivational interviewing techniques to decrease attitudinal barriers to cancer pain management. Questionnaires were completed at baseline and six weeks after the final telephone calls. Analysis of covariance was used to evaluate for differences in study outcomes among the three groups.

Main Research Variables: Pain intensity, pain relief, pain interference, attitudinal barriers, functional status, and QOL.

Findings: Attitudinal barrier scores did not change over time among groups. Patients randomized to the coaching group reported significant improvement in their ratings of pain-related interference with function, as well as general health, vitality, and mental health.

Conclusions: Although additional evaluation is needed, coaching may be a useful strategy to help patients decrease attitudinal barriers toward cancer pain management and to better manage their cancer pain.

Implications for Nursing: By using motivational interviewing techniques, advanced practice oncology nurses can help patients develop an appropriate plan of care to decrease pain and other symptoms.


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