Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Susan C. McMillan, Ph.D., A.R.N.P

Committee Member

Cindy Tofthagen, Ph.D., A.R.N.P

Committee Member

Constance Visovsky, Ph.D, R.N


Neuroscience Nurses, pain comprehension, pain understanding, malignancy pain, AANN


Approximately 1.5 million people are diagnosed with cancer each year. Most of these people will experience pain at some point during or after their treatment. Areas of knowledge that nurses have been shown to have deficits in include assessment and pharmacological management. These types of issues can affect the treatment given to their patients. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the level of knowledge of cancer pain management in oncology and non-oncology nurses and how they compare with each other.

To study these variables, two instruments, the Pain Management Knowledge Test and a demographic survey, were distributed to all nurses during two nursing association meetings. Sixty nurses (30 from each association) chose to participate. Descriptive statistics from demographic data were used to analyze the current knowledge of oncology and non-oncology nurses while a t-test was used to determine if there was a significant difference in oncology verses non-oncology nurses knowledge of cancer pain management.

The oncology sample consisted of mostly baccalaureate degree nurses with a mean age of 49 with an average of 22 years experience and mostly worked as hospital bedside nurses. The non-oncology group consisted of an equal number of diploma/associate degree nurses and baccalaureate nurses with a mean age of 51 and an average of 25 years experience. Test scores showed that oncology nurses scored significantly higher on the Pain Management and Knowledge Test overall between the two groups (t=2.1, p=0.04).

While the oncology nurses have significantly better knowledge of cancer pain management, the overall scores were low for both groups. It is evident that nurses would benefit from additional education in cancer-related pain management in both continuing education programs as well as in schools of nursing as part of their curriculum.