Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Susan C. McMillan, Ph.D., ARNP

Committee Member

Cecile A. Lengacher, Ph.D., RN

Committee Member

Cindy Tofthagen, Ph.D., ARNP


Nursing, Pain, Pain Management, Students


Unmanaged pain is a widespread problem that many cancer patients face on a daily basis. Cancer pain, which can either be caused by complications due to the disease process itself or from treatment measures used, has devastating effects on the quality of life for these patients and their caregivers. This study examined the knowledge and attitudes of undergraduate students regarding pain management.

The sample in this study consisted of 41 undergraduate students at the University of South Florida College of Nursing. The students sampled were predominantly white, (n=30), female (n=37), seniors (n=41) taking Leadership and Management in Nursing. After volunteering to participate, students completed the demographic data form, the nurses' attitude survey and the Pain Management Principles Assessment Tool.

The mean age of students was 22.46 years, with a range from 18 to 42 years. One student indicated that he or she had a bachelor's degree in another field with the majority of students being first time college students (n=31).

The results of the study showed that a mean score of 19.4 (SD= 3.0) out of a possible 31(63%) was achieved on the knowledge of the students regarding pain management while, a mean score of 17.0 (SD=2.6) out of 25 (68%) was achieved on the Nurses' Attitude Survey. The data showed that nursing students demonstrated inadequate knowledge regarding pain management, and had mixed attitudes towards pain management. However, a weak to moderate relationship between knowledge and attitudes was found (r=0.33, p=0.038) due to the fact that students lacked the fundamental knowledge, and understanding as to why they were practicing certain pain management skills.

Although the sample size was relatively small and not ethnically or demographically diverse, the response from the sample was sufficient in providing statistically meaningful data for this study. The results were seen to be consistent with previous studies that show poor management of pain. The findings of this study suggest the need for the development of specific strategies to effectively teach students about pain management, as well as integrate pain management as a major component of the undergraduate-nursing curriculum to improve patient outcomes.