Improving cancer pain management in communities: Main results from a randomized controlled trial

Thomas E. Elliott, David M. Murray, Martin M. Oken, Karen M. Johnson, Barbara L. Braun, Barbara A Elliott, Janice Post-White

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

55 Scopus citations


The purpose of this randomized controlled community trial is to evaluate the effects of a community intervention utilizing opinion leaders and educational strategies on the cancer pain management knowledge, attitudes, and the practices of physicians and nurses, and cancer pain reported by patients. Six Minnesota communities participated in the study. The three communities randomized to the intervention received educational programs over 15 months. The clinical community opinion leaders participated in a minifellowship, developed community task forces, and interacted with their peers. This strategy was reinforced with community outreach programs, clinical practice guidelines, educational materials, and media events. The primary study end point was patients' pain intensity score. Comparing intervention to control communities, pain prevalence declined slightly, pain management index improved slightly, pain intensity scores increased slightly, patient and family attitude scores did not change, and physicians' and nurses' knowledge and attitude scores improved slightly. None of these changes, however, reached statistical significance. Participation in at least one intervention program improved physicians' and nurses' knowledge and attitude scores that approached statistical significance. Our results suggest that community opinion leaders combined with other educational programs may improve cancer pain management, but this strategy requires further study. The results suggest that more intense intervention application may be effective. Effective strategies to improve cancer pain management remain elusive.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)191-203
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1997


  • Cancer pain
  • continuing medical education
  • patient outcomes
  • randomized trial

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