Assessing and managing pain in AIDS care: The patient perspective

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19 Scopus citations


Although the prevalence and complexity of pain management in HIV/AIDS has been described in the literature, little is known about the management of pain from the patient perspective. This study used a set of standardized instruments, a medication chart audit, and a semistructured interview to elicit patients'selfreports of pain and patients' perceptions of nursing and self-care pain management strategies and examined potential physiological and psychosocial correlates of pain. The sample of 249 AIDS patients from three types of care settings (hospital, home care, skilled nursing facility) reported a modest overall current pain intensity (M = .14, range = 0-1). They reported experiencing pain in all body parts as measured by a body outline and characterized their pain with an average of 8.96 words from a list of 67 words. A lower pain rating was correlated with higher ratings on quality of life and perceived psychological support. An audit of the medication record revealed that the study sample received the following medications: narcotic analgesics (49%), nonnarcotic analgesics (47%), andantidepressants (22%). In a semistructured interview, medications were rated as effective by 80% of patients experiencing pain who stated that their health care providers included pain medications as part of the patient's pain management plan. Patients reported few nonpharmacologic self-care or health care provider interventions to manage their pain, and the effectiveness ratings of the interventions demonstrated wide variability. The study findings suggest that because pain was related to quality of life ratings and the pain management strategies reported by patients were not completely effective, further work is needed to examine pain management strategies that incorporate both pharmacologie and nonpharma-cologic interventions with particular attention to selfcare interventions. In addition, the data suggest that nursing assessments should include questions aimed at eliciting potentially harmful (e.g., street drugs, selfprescribed medications) strategies that patients may be using to manage their pain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)22-30
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing


  • Nursing care
  • Pain


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