Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Susan C. McMillan


beliefs, education, health care provider, palliative care, symptom management


It has been well established that many people will suffer with pain at the end of life, and untreated pain contributes to reduced quality of life. Many barriers contribute to this issue including a lack of knowledge in nurses who care for dying patients. Many nurses in general practice settings do not possess adequate knowledge about basic pain management principles; and the same may be true about hospice nurses despite the assumption that hospice nurses are more adept at pain management. Contributing to this problem may be the attitudes that nurses, including hospice nurses, have regarding pain and its management. This study sought to identify the knowledge levels of hospice nurses. Because attitudes may affect the delivery of effective pain management, the study also sought to determine attitudes of hospice nurses regarding pain and its management. Thirty-five hospice nurses completed two instruments: The Pain Management Principles Assessment Test measured levels of knowledge and the Nurses Pain Management Attitude Survey determined attitudes. Data was analyzed using means, standard deviations, frequencies and percentages. A correlation between knowledge level and attitude was also calculated, along with a correlation between knowledge level and certification status. The overall mean knowledge score for the nurses studied was 21.74 (72.3%), which falls below accepted standards. The mean attitude score found was 82.34, which demonstrates only slightly positive attitudes. These findings support the idea that knowledge and attitude are not synonymous and that a nurse may have a positive attitude about the management of pain, without sufficient knowledge to effectively alleviate pain. It is often said that hospice nursing is a calling, and these are the nurses who are at the forefront of pain management. This study demonstrates that slightly more positive attitudes may indicate that this group of nurses is motivated to gain a better knowledge base. This should motivate hospices and other education institutions to incorporate more specific instruction regarding pain management into their curricula. Despite some common misconceptions pain does not have to be an unavoidable part of life, and with a better knowledge base hospice nurses could more effectively deliver compassionate, expert care.