Confronting the Perioperative Pain Paradox

Pain medications, especially opioids, have understandably undergone intense scrutiny due to recent public concern over prescription drug abuse, as well as the known side effects of opioids limiting enhanced recovery programs | Anesthesiology News

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The problem with eliminating opioid use is that major surgery comes with major pain, and opioids are effective at treating major pain. Furthermore, when opioids are finally introduced after attempting to avoid their use, it is usually done “emergently”—only after the patient is in extreme, inconsolable pain that disrupts recovery. This will likely lead to giving patients larger doses and increasing the risk for adverse events that we are all trying to avoid.

Note that severe acute pain is a risk factor for the development of chronic pain, sleep disturbances, changes in mood and behavior (especially in children), poor wound healing and delayed recovery. This avoidance of opioids in the face of intense pain due to their potential short- and long-term negative effects has created, what I call, the “perioperative pain paradox.”

Full reference: Answine, J.F. (2017) Confronting the Perioperative Pain Paradox. Anesthesiology News. Published online: 15 June 2017

Nurses’ experiences of pain management for people with advanced dementia approaching the end of life

Pain management in end-stage dementia is a fundamental aspect of end-of-life care; however, it is unclear what challenges and facilitators nurses experience in practice, whether these differ across care settings, and whether training needs to be tailored to the context of care | Journal of Clinical Nursing

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Aims and objectives: To explore hospice, acute care and nursing home nurses’ experiences of pain management for people with advanced dementia in the final month of life. To identify the challenges, facilitators and practice areas requiring further support.

 

Conclusions: Achieving pain management in practice was highly challenging. A number of barriers were identified; however, the manner and extent to which these impacted on nurses differed across hospice, nursing home and acute care settings. Needs-based training to support and promote practice development in pain management in end-stage dementia is required.

Relevance to clinical practice: Nurses considered pain management fundamental to end-of-life care provision; however, nurses working in acute care and nursing home settings may be undersupported and under-resourced to adequately manage pain in people dying with advanced dementia. Nurse-to-nurse mentoring and ongoing needs-assessed interactive case-based learning could help promote practice development in this area. Nurses require continuing professional development in pharmacology.

Full reference: De Witt Jansen, B. et al. Nurses’ experiences of pain management for people with advanced dementia approaching the end of life: a qualitative study. Journal of Clinical Nursing. 26,(9-10) pp. 1234–1244

Nurses’ experiences of pain management for people with advanced dementia approaching the end of life

De Witt Jansen, B. et al. (2017) Journal of Clinical Nursing. 26(9-10) pp. 1234–1244

Aims and objectives: To explore hospice, acute care and nursing home nurses’ experiences of pain management for people with advanced dementia in the final month of life. To identify the challenges, facilitators and practice areas requiring further support.

Background: Pain management in end-stage dementia is a fundamental aspect of end-of-life care; however, it is unclear what challenges and facilitators nurses experience in practice, whether these differ across care settings, and whether training needs to be tailored to the context of care.

Conclusions: Achieving pain management in practice was highly challenging. A number of barriers were identified; however, the manner and extent to which these impacted on nurses differed across hospice, nursing home and acute care settings. Needs-based training to support and promote practice development in pain management in end-stage dementia is required.

Relevance to clinical practice: Nurses considered pain management fundamental to end-of-life care provision; however, nurses working in acute care and nursing home settings may be undersupported and under-resourced to adequately manage pain in people dying with advanced dementia. Nurse-to-nurse mentoring and ongoing needs-assessed interactive case-based learning could help promote practice development in this area. Nurses require continuing professional development in pharmacology.

Read the abstract here

Parents’ reactions can lessen or worsen pain for injured kids

New research (yet to be published) has looked at family coping and distress during a dressing change following a burn injury in kids | The Conversation

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The 18-month study observed 92 families during their young child’s (one to six years) first burn dressing change at a Brisbane hospital.

Parents who reported they were more anxious or distressed were less able to support their child during the procedure. This decreased the child’s ability to cope and increased the child’s distress, which was measured by their ability to be distracted by toys and conversation, compared to crying or screaming during the dressing change.

Ratings of child anxiety and pain during the dressing change were also greater for children of parents who were less able to support their child during the dressing change.

Read the full blog post by  Erin Brown & Justin Kenardy here

Pain Assessment in INTensive care (PAINT)

Kemp, H.I. et al. Anaesthesia. Published online: 19 February 2017

Pain is a common and distressing symptom experienced by intensive care patients. Assessing pain in this environment is challenging, and published guidelines have been inconsistently implemented. The Pain Assessment in INTensive care (PAINT) study aimed to evaluate the frequency and type of physician pain assessments with respect to published guidelines.

The likelihood of receiving a physician pain assessment was affected by the following factors: the number of nursing assessments performed; whether the patient was admitted as a surgical patient; the presence of tracheal tube or tracheostomy; and the length of stay in ICU. Physician-documented pain assessments in the majority of participating ICUs were infrequent and did not utilise recommended behavioural pain assessment tools. Further research to identify factors influencing physician pain assessment behaviour in ICU, such as human factors or cultural attitudes, is urgently needed.

Read the full abstract here

Translating e-pain research into patient care

McGuire, B.E. et al. (2017) Pain. 158(2) pp. 190–193

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Recently, a call was made to expand the availability of pain self-management for the public, but several obstacles limit access to pain services such as distance, cost, and availability. Technology-based interventions can help with access to pain management, and consideration of these opportunities is timely given service pressures, changing consumer preferences, and the burgeoning ownership of personal computers and smartphones. In that context, we have described (1) the features of e-pain technologies, (2) the challenges in developing e-pain technologies, (3) the existing evidence in relation to technology-based pain management, (4) the debate regarding regulation of e-pain treatments, and (5) the likely steps for future development of these interventions.

Read the full article here

Breakthrough cancer pain: twenty-five years of study

Mercadante, S. & Portenoy, R. K. (2016) Pain157(12) pp. 2657–2663

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Breakthrough cancer pain (BTcP) is an episode of severe pain that “breaks through” a period of persistent pain at least partly controlled by a stable opioid regimen. Although mentioned in the literature decades ago, it has been only 25 years since the first effort to define and measure it.

Controversy about the definition of BTcP continues despite an international effort to achieve consensus. Nevertheless, common approaches to measurement of BTcP have led to a robust literature, including many surveys that have described prevalence, characteristics, and association with adverse outcomes. Measurement also has been important for clinical trials of new drug formulations specifically designed for BTcP. Several approaches have been reported in the literature, although most of them have never been substantiated with appropriate studies. Administration of an opioid as needed is the most common treatment.

Twenty-five years of research has produced a more refined understanding of the safety and efficacy of oral opioids in this context, and provided the clinical trials data necessary to attain regulatory approval of multiple new formulations specifically developed for BTcP. Transmucosal formulations of fentanyl may provide meaningful analgesia within 5 to 15 minutes. Given the difference in cost, transmucosal formulations should be considered in a subset of patients with BTcP, including those with pain that are not adequately controlled with an oral drug and those with distress associated with the rapid pain onset. The long-term use of opioids for BTcP remains to be clarified. Future studies should assess the potential of personalized treatment of BTcP.

Read the abstract here