People referred to the specialist palliative care setting almost universally experience pain. Effective pain management is a complex process founded on robust assessment, intervention and reassessment. Failure to adherence to this process impacts adversely on care outcomes and patients’ experiences.
Nurses’ pain assessment capabilities are one of many factors that contribute to sub-optimal pain management. Translating existing evidence into practice requires consideration of a range of targeted strategies, including educational interventions.
Spaced Education is a novel form of on-line learning that has been demonstrated to change entrenched clinical practice. The methodology involves participants answering a number of online case based scenarios that are reinforced over time.
To determine if a tailored Spaced Education pain assessment learning module can increase specialist palliative care nurses’ pain assessment capabilities.
A pre-post test quasi-experimental study: with data collected at: baseline (T1), immediately post intervention (T2), eight (T3) and sixteen weeks (T4) post intervention. Data collection consisted of: a participant survey to assess changes in pain assessment knowledge and attitudes; and a retrospective chart audit to measure pain assessment and reassessment documentation practices.
Participants (N=33) were primarily registered nurses (88%). Pain assessment documentation increased from T1-T2 (X 2.48 to 4.20 per admission), with the majority of notations made by Spaced Education participants at all time points post: T2 (81%); T3 (87%) and T4 (72%).
Participants were more confident post intervention: documenting their pain assessment findings (X 7.52 to 8.17); and undertaking a comprehensive pain assessment (x 7.27 vs. 8.24).
The trends noted in this pilot study suggests that Spaced Education is a potentially effective format for delivering specialised clinical content that may translate into practice change. Further research is required to confirm these observations.