An Integrative Review of the Literature on Pain Management Barriers: Implications for the Canadian Clinical Context

Mia Maris Ortiz, Eloise Carr, Anastasia Dikareva


Despite decades of pain research, substandard pain management continues to be distressingly prevalent across health-care settings. This integrative literature review analyzes and synthesizes barriers to effective pain management and identifies areas for future investigation in a Canadian context. Three sets of key barriers were identified through thematic analysis of 24 original research studies published in the period 2003-13: patient, professional, and organizational. These barriers rarely occurred in isolation, with many studies reporting examples in all three categories. This suggests that interventions need to reflect the multifactorial nature of pain management. Reframing pain education as a public health initiative could lead to sustainable improvement, as could the strengthening of partner ships between patients and health-care providers. There are tremendous opportunities for the advanced practice nurse to take a lead in pain management. The delivery of high-quality care that encompasses effective pain management strategies must be a priority for nursing. Research approaches, such as pragmatic mixed methods, that offer contextual understanding of how pain is managed are suggested.

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