Understanding Nurses’ Knowledge and Attitudes Toward Pain Assessment in Dementia: A Literature Review.

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Pain is underrecognized and undertreated in patients with dementia. It has been suggested that nurses’ attitudinal barriers may contribute to the challenges surrounding pain assessment and management in dementia.This integrative literature review aims to identify and explore nurses’ knowledge and attitudes towards pain assessment in older people with dementia and how it may affect pain management in this patient group.Electronic searches were conducted in Web of Science, MEDLINE, Scopus, ProQuest, PubMed, and EBSCOhost from January 2008 to December 2018 for articles specifically focusing on nurses’ knowledge and attitudes towards pain assessment in older patients with dementia.Ten studies were included in the review after meeting the inclusion criteria. Data extracted from each study included study design, aims and objectives, setting/sample, findings, and limitations. Patients with dementia are at greater risk of experiencing underassessment, undertreatment, and delayed treatment of pain due to nurses’ knowledge deficits and uncertainty in the decision-making process. Nurses see providing comfort and reducing pain as ethical obligation. However, they find pain assessment a challenge due to the complexity of recognizing painful behaviors, and difficulty differentiating between pain and behavioral disturbances in dementia. Poor multidisciplinary communication, time constraints, and workload pressure, as well as uncertainty about opioid use, are important barriers to effective pain assessment and management among patients with dementia.It is essential that nurses gain confidence in distinguishing signs and symptoms of pain from behavioral changes in dementia. It is important to improve interdisciplinary communication and to get physicians to listen and prioritize pain assessment and management.

View the full article @ Pain management nursing : official journal of the American Society of Pain Management Nurses
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