Hospital patient satisfaction with pain management is linked to nurse staffing levels, according to US nursing researchers.
They found that higher numbers of nursing staff was one of the significant factors associated with patients being less likely to report their pain was poorly controlled.
“The findings highlight the need for adequate numbers of nursing staff”
The researchers looked at how hospital characteristics, staffing and nursing care factors were associated with patient satisfaction with pain control.
They used results from a national patient experience survey relating to hospitals in three states – California, Massachusetts and New York.
Patients’ perception of pain control significantly improved with higher numbers of registered nurses and to a less extent higher numbers of nursing staff, generally, said the study authors.
They also identified four factors that increased the likelihood that patients reported poor pain control.
These were not receiving help as soon as they wanted, poor nurse communication, poor medication education and being in teaching hospitals – probably due to patient perceptions of junior doctors.
“Nurse staffing and nurse-patient communication are highly predictive of patients’ perception of pain management,” said the study authors in the journal Pain Management Nursing.
“This study provides new evidence for the importance of continuity of care in controlling the pain of hospitalised patients,” said the nurse researchers from Boston College’s Connell School of Nursing.
Patient satisfaction with pain control linked to nurse staffing
Lead study author Judith Shindul-Rothschild, an associate professor at the school, said: “Findings from this study support nurses as key contributors to patient satisfaction with pain control.”
“The findings highlight the need for adequate numbers of nursing staff to achieve optimal patient satisfaction with pain management,” she said. “In addition, having a prescriber (physician or nurse practitioner) available 24/7 to offer continuity of care is essential.”
She added: “Pain management is front and centre in healthcare today. We need to think very critically of how we are managing pain, how we are communicating with patients, and how members of treatment teams are communicating with each other.
“In addition to appropriate nurse staffing, our study highlights that an essential component to improve patients’ satisfaction with pain management is to promote more effective collaboration among medical trainees, hospitalists, and nurses,” said Dr Shindul-Rothschild.