Pi Phi Chapter

Chronic Pain and Addiction: An Undergraduate Nursing Student Intervention

Nursing Research on the Green

2017 Abstract

Maggie Christie, Student Nurse; Alexandra Burch, Student Nurse; and Susan Zeller, DNP, APRN, CNP; professor/project advisor – Winona State University 

  • Background:  It seems that every time one turns on the news, goes online, or opens a newspaper there is a shocking story about a prescription drug overdose or a new medication that is wreaking havoc on the public. The media is now referring to this phenomenon as the "opioid epidemic". The epidemic is manifested by: higher rates of overdoses, opioid related emergency room visits, misuse, and admissions to substance abuse programs (Webster, 2016). Surprisingly, opioid addiction and chronic pain is a significant issue in the United States, with very little research on the topic. A lack of education of the public, patients, and healthcare providers is contributing to the fear, misuse, and ultimately the inadequate treatment of pain. Due to the misconceptions or lack of understanding, those who legitimately need and benefit from pain medication and opioids often do not receive adequate treatment or are treated as addicts. Throughout the research reviewed, it is apparent that education for healthcare professionals is a crucial first step in ensuring a better pain management experience for patients. Assessment of undergraduate nursing students is the perfect place to start, as they will hopefully take this knowledge into the field after graduation and start to change the situation at large.
  • Significance:  This topic is important to the nursing profession because the knowledge and attitudes surrounding pain, pain management, and addiction all directly impact the quality of care patients receive. 
  • Purpose/objective:   The purpose of our project was to create an educational program on chronic pain and addiction for undergraduate nursing students. We also aimed to change misconceptions surrounding chronic pain patients, especially the link between pain management and the risk for addiction and addiction-related behaviors. 
  • Methods/project:  Evidence-based project 
  • Results:  Results show a gain in knowledge as well as increased confidence in caring for this patient population. Modifications in attitudes also noted. 
  • Clinical implications:  Focusing on undergraduate nursing students provided an opportunity to provide proper pain education to a new generation of nurses. This intervention aimed to be the beginning step in positively impacting the lives of pain patients and those healthcare workers who struggle to understand chronic pain and addiction. 

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