Unacceptable pain in oncology: The patients' perspective on reasons for absence of pain interventions

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OBJECTIVE: Around 40% of oncology patients receive inadequate pain treatment. A previous study reported pain interventions for only 70% of patients who reported unacceptable pain at the self-service registration desk. The aim of this study is to gain insight in reasons for the absence of pain intervention among oncology patients who reported unacceptable pain.

METHODS: In this mixed methods study, 20 patients visiting the oncology outpatient clinic were selected via patient record assessment and interviewed about their perceived reasons for absence of pain intervention.

RESULTS: The reasons mentioned by the patients for absence of pain intervention included reluctance of the patient to discuss pain, no treatment preferred by the patient, focus of the physician on treatment of the disease, pain treatment difficult or impossible, and the perception that pain is an inevitable consequence of the cancer treatment. Almost 50% of the patients considered the physician responsible for the absence of pain intervention.

CONCLUSION: In conclusion, a variety of reasons for absence of pain intervention are reported by patients, including patient-related and health professional-related reasons. Improvements can be made by promoting regular discussion of pain during hospital visits and empowerment of patients.

Original languageEnglish
Article number13628
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Journal of Cancer Care
Issue number5
Early online date6 Jun 2022
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022


  • cancer pain
  • empowerment
  • oncology
  • pain management
  • patients
  • perception

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