CONTEXT: Patients with cancer face symptoms due to disease and treatment, and pain is common and complex. The opioid crisis may complicate patients' and clinicians' experiences of managing pain in cancer care.
OBJECTIVES: In our study of perceptions and experiences with palliative care at an outpatient cancer center, we examined communication around symptom management throughout cancer care, and pain and its management emerged as particularly salient. The objective of this paper is to describe, from the perspectives of patients, caregivers, and oncology healthcare professionals, the role of palliative care in navigating the complicated dynamics of pain management amidst the opioid crisis.
METHODS: A qualitative descriptive study with grounded theory components was designed to investigate experiences with and perceptions of specialist palliative care and symptom management, including pain. Interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed, and focused coding identified themes related to pain and pain management from all three perspectives.
RESULTS: 44 patients, caregivers, and non-palliative care healthcare professionals completed interviews. Patients with cancer and their caregivers had many concerns about pain management and were specifically concerned about opioid use and stigma. For patients, palliative care improved pain management and helped to de-stigmatize appropriate pain management. Oncology clinicians reported that partnering with palliative care facilitated complex pain management and also provided moral support around difficult opioid recommendations for patients.
CONCLUSION: Palliative care offers the potential to uniquely support both patients and other oncology professionals in optimally navigating the complexity around pain management for cancer care in the midst of the opioid crisis.
Background: Patients with cancer-related pain use opioids for nociceptive pain, while gabapentinoids are common to treat neuropathic pain. The simultaneous use of opioids with gabapentinoids has been associated with an increased risk of opioid-related death.
Objectives: Determine the frequency of combined use of gabapentinoids among patients receiving opioids for cancer-related pain. We also examined if concomitant use of opioids and gabapentinoids together was associated with increased scores of fatigue and drowsiness on the Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale (ESAS) compared to patients on opioids.
Design: Retrospective study of patients on opioids and opioids plus gabapentinoids at their third visit to the outpatient Supportive Care Center.
Results: We found that 48% (508/1059) of patients were on opioids. Of these patients, 51% (257/508) were on opioids only, and 49% (251/508) were on opioids plus gabapentinoids. The median (interquartile range [IQR]) morphine equivalent daily dose for patients on opioids was 75 (45, 138) mg, and opioids plus gabapentinoids was 68 (38, 150) mg (p = 0.94). The median (IQR) gabapentinoid equivalent daily dose was 900 (300, 1200) mg. The median (IQR) for ESAS-fatigue in patients on opioids was 5 (3, 7), and opioids plus gabapentinoids was 5 (3, 7) (p = 0.27). The median (IQR) for ESAS-drowsiness in patients on opioids was 3 (0, 5), and opioids plus gabapentinoids was 3 (0, 6) (p = 0.11).
Conclusion: Almost 50% of advanced cancer patients receiving opioids for pain were exposed to gabapentinoids. Maximal efforts should be made to minimize potential complications from the concomitant use of opioids with gabapentinoids.
Background: pain is a common symptom of head and neck cancers. In some instances, pain may not resolve with conventional modalities and become refractory. Chemical neurolysis is a technique that utilizes chemical neurolytic agents to temporarily denervate a targeted nerve and provide relief in pain-related symptoms. The aim of this investigation was to determine the effectiveness, safety, and predictors of chemical neurolysis procedures for management of refractory head and neck cancer-related pain.
Methods: A retrospective chart review of patients who underwent chemical neurolysis procedure in the regions of head and neck for management of head and neck cancer-related pain was conducted between November 2017 and November 2018. All adult male and female patients who had undergone chemical neurolysis procedure in the head and neck region for management of refractory head and neck related pain, in Orofacial Pain Clinic, Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Center were included in the investigation.
Results: Among 33 participants enrolled, 72.7% of participants experienced 75% or greater relief in pain at the 1-month follow-up. However, 9.1% reported experiencing an adverse effect following neurolysis. A statistically significant association was found between neurolysis effectiveness and chronicity of pain.
Conclusions: Chemical neurolysis can provide significant relief to patients with refractory head and neck cancer-related pain as an adjunctive therapy. However, it was found to be associated with mild risk of manageable adverse effects. Shorter chronicity of pain was found to be associated with successful outcome.
Pain is a common symptom leading to referrals to specialized home palliative care (SHPC) services and is known to affect patients’ quality of life. To date, little is known about the impact of referral source on its management. To assess changes to pain medication profile in the course of SHPC and to identify potential differences in relation to referral source. This exploratory study is a retrospective analysis of 501 electronic medical records of a SHPC team in Germany. This included the assessment of baseline pain medication profiles according to the WHO analgesic ladder and changes to analgesic treatment in the course of SHPC with respect to referral source. At the time of admission, 77.4% of patients referred by a hospital and 78.8% of patients referred by the outpatient sector received a fixed analgesic regimen. In all, 61.9% of the inpatient group versus 62.9% of the outpatient group were treated with opioids, and 79.0% received modifications to pain medication at one point in time following admission. Thereby, patients referred by the outpatient sector received significantly earlier modifications and more supplementations of pain medication. Our study suggests positive development in the prescription of opioid analgesics compared to earlier studies in Germany. On the one hand, it highlights the relevance of thorough assessment and responsive evaluation of pain in SHPC, and on the other hand it reveals possible training needs of referring physicians, particularly those working in the outpatient sector. Our results inspired further research examining more closely the links between referral source and pain management.
Background: No studies have explored the pain resource nurse curriculum in the hospice setting. This curriculum offers a structured method to teach pain management to nurses.
Aims: The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of implementing a modified pain resource nurse curriculum on nursing knowledge in a community hospice agency.
Methods: A modified and condensed version of the pain resources nurse curriculum was presented to community hospice nurses during two educational sessions. A pre-test–post-test assessment was conducted using a modified version of the Nursing Knowledge and Attitudes Survey Regarding Pain tool to assess knowledge growth from the educational sessions.
Findings: For educational session 1, average correct responses rose slightly from the pre-test to the post-test. However, this increase was not found to be statistically significant. For educational session 2, average correct responses rose an average of 2.6 points. This increase was found to be statistically significant.
Conclusions: Based on this pre-experimental study, there is evidence that the pain resources nurse curriculum can provide an instructional framework for teaching hospice nurses. However, further study is needed, including a more rigorous design.
Introduction : En France, la méthadone est autorisée uniquement comme traitement de substitution. Elle peut être utilisée pour les douleurs liées au cancer. Le but de cette étude est d’évaluer l’efficacité et les effets secondaires de la méthadone dans cette indication.
Méthode : Il s’agit d’une étude rétrospective de janvier 2010 à février 2011, incluant tous les patients recevant de la méthadone pour la première fois. Le soulagement était considéré comme obtenu si l’intensité de la douleur était inférieure ou égale à 3/10 sur l’échelle d’évaluation numérique (EN) ou inférieure ou égale à 30/100 sur une échelle visuelle analogique (Eva), à j7 et j28. Les effets secondaires et leur persistance ont été explorés pendant l’instauration, à j7 et j28.
Résultats : Vingt-deux patients ont été inclus. Vingt patients ont été évalués au 7e jour, dix-huit patients à 28e. À j7, seize patients (80 %) étaient soulagés et onze (61 %) au 28e jour. Peu de patients ont présenté des effets indésirables : 8 patients (40 %) à j7 et 3 (16,7 %) à j28.
Conclusion : La méthadone est un traitement utile contre la douleur cancéreuse, en particulier pour la douleur cancéreuse rebelle et complexe.
Introduction : Les patients présentant une ischémie critique chronique des membres inférieurs ne sont pas toujours accessibles à un traitement curatif vasculaire. Les seules possibilités deviennent l’amputation, ou un traitement conservateur, limités pour soulager la douleur, et mal tolérés/acceptés. Dans cette approche palliative de l’ICC, l’objectif du travail est d’évaluer l’impact d’une neurolyse alcoolique du nerf sciatique, sur la qualité de vie (antalgie, retour à domicile), et d’évaluer le processus aboutissant à cette décision.
Méthode : Étude descriptive rétrospective sur dossiers médicaux de 13 patients en lits identifiés de soins palliatifs (LISP), entre 2017 et 2019.
Résultats : Les motivations pour la neurolyse étaient l’analgésie pérenne, le retour à domicile, le refus de l’amputation, et le caractère peu fonctionnel du membre atteint. L’analgésie était retrouvée chez tous les patients : après le geste, à J3, et à la sortie. Huit patients regagnaient le domicile (médiane de survie : 41jours). Deux étaient ré-hospitalisés. Cinq patients décédaient en LISP (médiane de 7jours postneurolyse). Un geste complémentaire était parfois nécessaire devant l’apparition d’un nouveau territoire douloureux. Des complications, attendues, étaient retrouvées. La recherche de collégialité existait pour tous les patients. La réflexion pluridisciplinaire, dans une démarche formalisée, était décrite pour la majorité.
Discussion : Cette étude suggère un bénéfice de la neurolyse, à contraster avec les limites évoquées : méthodologiques, et celles inhérentes à la technique. Elle s’envisage après évaluation et délibération pluridisciplinaire collégiale. Des travaux ultérieurs devraient préciser ces conclusions.
Du fait des multiples formes de la douleur, sa prise en charge est à géométrie variable. L’évaluation, son retentissement, son traitement, l’évaluation du bénéfice et les effets secondaires sont à chaque fois un modèle singulier.
Background: Intravenous lidocaine infusions have been shown to be effective for cancer related pain, but access is restricted to acute care settings. If able to be shown to be safe and effective, the subcutaneous route could expand access to residential hospices or patients' homes.
Objectives: This randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled, 2 × 2 crossover trial evaluated the effectiveness, safety, toxicity, and impact on quality of life of a limited duration subcutaneous lidocaine infusion (SCLI) for chronic cancer pain.
Mthods: Patients with the life expectancy of three months or more, who were experiencing cancer-related pain with a worst severity of at least 4 on a 0–10 scale despite a trial of at least one opioid and appropriate adjuvant analgesic, received two subcutaneous infusions at least a week apart; lidocaine 10 mg/kg over 5.5 hours and saline placebo. The primary outcome was either a reduction in worst pain intensity of two points out of 10 or a reduction in 24 hours opioid dose of at least 30% without worsening of pain scores, in seven days.
Results: The SCLI was only effective for two subjects. One of these subjects experienced a drop in worst pain score and the other experienced a reduction in opioid dose.
Conclusions: A weight-based subcutaneous infusion of lidocaine does not achieve sufficiently predictable blood levels for determining lidocaine responsiveness. This study does not allow any conclusion to be drawn on whether or not lidocaine would have been more effective had it been titrated to higher blood levels.
Background: Optimal pain management in the palliative care setting often requires multiple pharmacological interventions including novel and off-label therapies. Ketamine is an anesthetic agent with increasing evidence supporting its use for pain. Through N-methyl-d-aspartate antagonism and activity at opioid receptors, it is an adjuvant to traditional analgesics with the benefit of being opioid sparing. Ketamine has a wide safety profile with limited reports of overdose. Little is published on supratherpeutic dosing in the pain setting.
Objective: We report a case of a 41-year-old male with refractory nociceptive and neuropathic cancer-related pain. Conventional therapies were ineffective. Ketamine was initiated to reduce opioid burden and attenuate pain with good response. The patient received an iatrogenic overdose (10 times ordered dose) of the drug. Several self-limited physiologic and psychologic reactions were observed during subsequent monitoring.
Design: This is a study and analysis of a patient with refractory nociceptive and neuropathic pain syndrome treated with ketamine who sustained an iatrogenic overdose of ketamine.
Conclusions: Ketamine's use to treat pain is increasing along with its evidence of efficacy. Despite ketamine's wide safety profile, the medication is not without risk, especially in palliative care wherein patients are on multiple drugs with potentially severe interactions. Careful examination of the risks of overdose, especially of the various formulations of the drug, is needed.
Patients with serious illnesses are often asked whether they would prioritize relief of pain and suffering or longevity if these 2 goals were to come into conflict. A significant majority state that they would prioritize relief of pain and suffering. However, it is difficult for clinicians and family caregivers to operationalize such preferences without knowing the limits of these preferences or how much time alive patients would be willing to sacrifice in the service of their palliative goals. We sought to quantify trade-offs between survival time and avoidance of intensive care near the end of life among seriously ill hospitalized patients.
This article will focus on the following objectives specific to end-of-life care for professional case management:
Discuss recent industry topics that influence care processes.
Explore the opioid epidemic's impact on pain management.
Identify terms associated with end-of-life and life-limiting care.
Understand types of advance directives and care defining tools.
Define the purpose of psychiatric advance directives.
Discuss the shifting diagnostic face.
Discuss how inclusion manifests for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning (LGBTQ) population.
Explore challenges working through adolescent decision making and treatment.
Review regulation and reimbursement shifts across the industry.
Identify the use of artificial intelligence.
Discuss the value of ethics committees in health care organizations.
Define the Four Cs of Care Considerations.
Identify ethical principles for consideration by the workforce.
Context: Despite being associated with dependence and social stigma, methadone is a potential end-of-life option in complex cancer pain.
Objectives: To explore attitudes and opinions about methadone and its potential role and current use in complex end-of-life pain.
Methods: Semi-structured interviews (n = 30) with physicians in specialized palliative care, transcribed and analyzed with conventional qualitative content analysis.
Results: According to the physicians, patients and relatives expressed unexpectedly few negative attitudes, not affecting methadone’s use as an analgesic. Complex pain in bone-metastatic cancer of the prostate, breast and kidney, as well as pancreatic cancer and sarcomas were recurrent suggestions of appropriate indications.
Most of the informants stated that they applied a mechanism-based treatment and mainly prescribed low-dose methadone as an add-on to an existing opioid therapy to benefit from methadone´s proposed NMDA-receptor inhibiting properties, e.g. in cases with reduced opioid sensitivity. Despite its complex pharmacokinetics with a long half-life, most informants expressed defined strategies to avoid side-effects such as respiratory depression, especially when initiating treatment in the home-care setting.
While many palliative care physicians expressed an overly enthusiastic attitude, others stressed the risks of overconfidence, low precision in use, and overlooked treatment options. Besides the obvious physical pain-relieving effects, they stated that effective pain relief could result in a reduced workload and emotional empowerment, both for physicians and staff.
Conclusion: Methadone, especially in the form of low-dose add-on to other opioids is widely advocated in Swedish specialized palliative care as a practical and safe method with rapid onset in complex pain situations at the end of life.
Background/objectives: Opioids relieve symptoms in terminal care. We studied opioid underuse in long-term care facilities, defined as residents without opioid prescription despite pain and/or dyspnoea, 3 days prior to death.
Design and setting: In a proportionally stratified randomly selected sample of long-term care facilities in six European Union countries, nurses and long-term care facility management completed structured after-death questionnaires within 3 months of residents’ death.
Measurements: Nurses assessed pain/dyspnoea with Comfort Assessment in Dying with Dementia scale and checked opioid prescription by chart review. We estimated opioid underuse per country and per symptom and calculated associations of opioid underuse by multilevel, multivariable analysis.
Results: nurses’ response rate was 81.6%, 95.7% for managers. Of 901 deceased residents with pain/dyspnoea reported in the last week, 10.6% had dyspnoea, 34.4% had pain and 55.0% had both symptoms. Opioid underuse per country was 19.2% (95% confidence interval: 12.9–27.2) in the Netherlands, 25.2% (18.3–33.6) in Belgium, 29.3% (16.9–45.8) in England, 33.7% (26.2–42.2) in Finland, 64.6% (52.0–75.4) in Italy and 79.1% (71.2–85.3) in Poland (p < 0.001). Opioid underuse was 57.2% (33.0–78.4) for dyspnoea, 41.2% (95% confidence interval: 21.9–63.8) for pain and 37.4% (19.4–59.6) for both symptoms (p = 0.013). Odds of opioid underuse were lower (odds ratio: 0.33; 95% confidence interval: 0.20–0.54) when pain was assessed.
Conclusion: Opioid underuse differs between countries. Pain and dyspnoea should be formally assessed at the end-of-life and taken into account in physicians orders.
Objectifs : Une approche clinique globale et analytique, prenant en compte des causes multifactorielles, s’avère nécessaire pour comprendre et traiter les douleurs complexes et réfractaires liées au cancer. Un guide a été élaboré afin d’aider le praticien dans son raisonnement clinique. Il associe quatre approches : sémiologique, physiopathologique, anatomique et fonctionnelle. Ainsi, l’objectif principal de cette étude était d’évaluer la faisabilité d’utilisation de ce guide par des médecins d’unités de soins palliatifs. Les objectifs secondaires étaient de connaître les résultats de ces approches combinées et d’observer les modifications des coanalgésies médicamenteuses et si possible les approches multimodales.
Méthode : Cette étude de faisabilité était interventionnelle, non thérapeutique, et multicentrique sur les cinq unités de soins palliatifs d’Aquitaine. Dans un travail préliminaire, le guide de raisonnement clinique a été élaboré par six médecins puis soumis à la lecture critique de huit autres médecins par entretien et enfin par questionnaire. L’étude s’est déroulée auprès de sept médecins de quatre unités de soins palliatifs, tous expérimentés et diplômés en soins palliatifs. Un questionnaire remis aux médecins portait sur l’évaluation critique de l’utilisation du recueil : son utilité, ses avantages, ses limites, ses conditions d’utilisation.
Résultats : Sept médecins ont participé à l’étude. Parmi eux, quatre ont dit utiliser un raisonnement clinique auparavant. Six ont jugé le guide utile pour étudier les éléments manquants à l’évaluation et mieux soulager. Cinq ont estimé qu’il pourrait être généralisé dans les unités de soins palliatifs, deux qu’il pourrait être intégré au dossier dès l’admission du patient. Pour deux, le manque de temps pouvaitt être un frein à sa faisabilité. Soixante-huit patients ont été inclus, représentant 84 cas de douleur (59 % nociceptives, 35 % mixtes et 6 % neuropathiques). Parmi les douleurs évaluées, 19 comprenaient une composante neuropathique (DN4 positif). La coanalgésie a été modifiée pour tous les patients dans les 24h suivant l’admission.
Discussion : Pour la plupart des médecins interrogés, le guide est utile et faisable. Le manque de disponibilité, les besoins d’intégration des approches biomédicale et psychorelationnelle, d’appropriation du guide par un apprentissage et un compagnonnage ont été relevés par certains répondants.
Conclusion : L’évaluation de ce guide doit être poursuivie, notamment en médecine générale et en gériatrie. Son impact sur la prise en charge des douleurs liées au cancer est également à étudier.
Background: Uncontrolled cancer pain is a significant problem in palliative medicine. Opioids are often first-line treatment that increase risks of analgesic tolerance and hyperalgesia. Topical ketamine with other adjuvant pain medications is an often-overlooked treatment, yet may be most effective in difficult-to-treat cancer pain.
Objective: We report a case series of hospice patients with uncontrolled cancer pain who were suboptimally treated with opioids and nerve blocks, whose symptoms responded to topical ketamine with other adjuvants. We review the pronociceptive properties of opioids and how topical multimodal treatment of cancer pain can be more effective than standard opioids, other topical adjuvant medications, and nerve blocks. We discuss the shortcomings of the World Health Organization (WHO) stepladder for the treatment of cancer pain and suggest an adjuvant treatment algorithm, directing physicians to appropriate adjuvant pain agents based on pain type and distinct receptor actions.
Design: This is a retrospective case series of patients who responded to topical multimodal pain treatment with implementation of findings into an addendum to the WHO stepladder.
Subjects: Subjects were from a case series of community-based hospice patients with previously uncontrolled cancer pain.
Measurement: Measurement was made by self-report of pain levels using the 10-point numeric pain rating scale.
Results: Patients' pain was controlled with topical adjuvant medications with return to previously lost function and prevention of otherwise escalating opioid dosing.
Conclusions: These patient cases reveal how ketamine-based topical treatment for cancer pain can be more effective than standard opioids, other topical adjuvant medications, and nerve blocks with no noted side effects and observed reduction in opioid consumption.
BACKGROUND: Depressive disorders are common among cancer patients. Ketamine can quickly relieve depression, and its subcutaneous administration appears to be as effective as and probably safer than its standard intravenous administration. Herein, we report a case verifying the antidepressant effect of a subcutaneous esketamine formulation.
CASE PRESENTATION: A 65-year-old male with metastatic abdominal tumor reported sadness, weight loss, fatigue, hopelessness, insomnia, inattention, and reduced motivation. His scores on the visual analogical scale for pain and Montgomery-Asberg depression rating scale were 8/10 and 30/60, respectively.
POSSIBLE COURSES OF ACTION: Monoaminergic antidepressants are effective, but their response is slow for end-of-life care.
FORMULATION OF A PLAN: Esketamine was preferred because it possibly contributes to pain relief. It can repeatedly be infused intravenously, but was subcutaneously administered twice a week for safety reasons.
OUTCOME: The patient showed continuous mood improvement, achieving depression remission on day 7. Pain relief was observed but without stability. His vital signs remained stable, and he remained calm, without major complaints.
LESSONS FROM THE CASE: Repeated subcutaneous esketamine injections are possibly safe and effective in pain and depression relief in palliative care cancer patients.
VIEW ON RESEARCH PROBLEMS, OBJECTIVES, OR QUESTIONS GENERATED BY THE CASE: Placebo-controlled studies with similar cases are needed to establish efficacy and safety.
Purpose: Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is a treatment option for cancer pain, but the evidence is inconclusive. We aimed to evaluate the efficacy and safety of TENS.
Methods: A blinded, randomized, sham-controlled pilot cross-over trial (NCT02655289) was conducted on an inpatient specialist palliative care ward. We included adult inpatients with cancer pain = 3 on an 11-point numerical rating scale (NRS). Intensity-modulated high TENS (IMT) was compared with placebo TENS (PBT). Patients used both modes according to their preferred application scheme during 24 h with a 24-h washout phase. The primary outcome was change in average pain intensity on the NRS during the preceding 24 h. Responders were patients with at least a “slight improvement.”
Results: Of 632 patients screened, 25 were randomized (sequence IMT-PBT = 13 and PBT-IMT = 12). Finally, 11 patients in IMT-PBT and 9 in PBT-IMT completed the study (N = 20). The primary outcome did not differ between groups (IMT minus PBT: - 0.2, 95% confidence interval - 0.9 to 0.6). However, responder rates were higher in IMT (17/20 [85%] vs. 10/20 [50%], p = 0.0428). Two patients experienced an uncomfortable feeling caused by the current, one after IMT and one after PBT. Seven patients (35%) desired a TENS prescription. Women and patients with incident pain were most likely to benefit from TENS.
Conclusion: TENS was safe, but IMT was unlikely to offer more analgesic effects than PBT. Even though many patients desired a TENS prescription, 50% still reported at least “slight pain relief” from PBT. Differences for gender and incident pain aspects demand future trials.
AIM AND OBJECTIVES: To explore the experiences and views of nurses who provide non-pharmacological therapies for chronic pain management in palliative care.
BACKGROUND: Nursing expertise in palliative care is essential in providing pain relief to patients with chronic diseases. Examinations of the use of non-pharmacological therapies for chronic pain management in palliative care have revealed what non-pharmacological therapies have been used, but there is insufficient knowledge regarding nurses' attitudes, views, and experiences regarding pain therapies in this context.
DESIGN: A qualitative descriptive design was chosen.
METHODS: Data were collected through individual interviews in a purposive sample with 15 nurses to ensure maximum variation. The data were analyzed using qualitative content analysis. This study aligns with the Consolidated Criteria for Reporting Qualitative Research (COREQ) checklist.
RESULTS: The analysis yielded four categories, as follows: "Building and sustaining favorable therapeutic relationships" involved the creation of trust and a solid relationship; in "recognizing the diversity of patients' needs," person-centered care is expressed as being vital for individualized non-pharmacological pain management; "incorporating significant others" describes how nurses can help to ease the patient's pain by identifying positive encounters with family members or friends; and in "recognizing the existence of barriers," nurses highlight vulnerable groups such as children, for whom nurses require special education to enable optimal non-pharmacologic pain management.
CONCLUSION: The unique knowledge that nurses gain about the patient through the nurse-patient relationship is central and crucial for successful non-pharmacological pain management.
RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE: This study emphasizes the need for nurses to get to know their patient and to be open and sensitive to patients' descriptions of their unique life situations, as this provides the necessary knowledge for optimal care and pain management. Nurses should be encouraged and given the opportunity to attend specialized training in palliative care and pain management.
Background: The prevalence of undertreated cancer pain remains high. Suboptimal pain control affects quality of life and results in psychological and emotional distress. Barriers to adequate pain control include fear of opioid dependence and its side effects.
Aim: To investigate the attitudes and perceptions of morphine use in cancer pain in advanced cancer patients and their caregivers and to examine the influence of caregivers’ attitudes and perceptions on patients’ acceptance of morphine.
Design: Qualitative study involving semi-structured individual interviews transcribed verbatim and analyzed thematically.
Setting/Participants: A total of 18 adult opioid-naïve patients with advanced cancer and 13 caregivers (n = 31) were recruited at a private tertiary hospital via convenience sampling.
Results: Attitudes and perceptions of morphine were influenced by previous experiences. Prevalent themes were similar in both groups, including perceptions that morphine was a strong analgesic that reduced suffering, but associated with end-stage illness and dependence. Most participants were open to future morphine use for comfort and effective pain control. Trust in doctors’ recommendations was also an important factor. However, many preferred morphine as a last resort because of concerns about side effects and dependence, and the perception that morphine was only used at the terminal stage. Caregivers’ attitudes toward morphine did not affect patients’ acceptance of morphine use.
Conclusion: Most participants were open to future morphine use despite negative perceptions as they prioritized optimal pain control and reduction of suffering. Focused education programs addressing morphine misperceptions might increase patient and caregiver acceptance of opioid analgesics and improve cancer pain control.