Patients and family members: The role of knowledge and attitudes in cancer pain

Barbara A Elliott, Thomas E. Elliott, David M. Murray, Barbara L. Braun, Karen M. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


Cancer pain theoretically comprises sensory, affective, and cognitive dimensions, implying that patients and family members perceive and report cancer pain based on these factors. The study reported here investigated the relationship between specific knowledge and attitudes (cognitive factors), and patients' and family members' reports of pain due to cancer. The relationship between cognitive factors and reports of cancer pain was investigated in interviews with 122 patients and their family members. Pain was measured using the Brief Pain Inventory; knowledge and attitudes were measured using a form previously developed by the authors. Patients' and family members' reports of patient pain and performance status were highly correlated, although family members consistently reported more pain and disability. Using regression analysis, cognitive factors were strongly related to family reports of patients' pain (R2 = 0.27), but contributed little to explaining pain reported by patients themselves (R2 = 0.06). Improved understanding of patients' pain assessments depends on further investigation of other cognitive factors and of sensory and affective factors. Family members' assessments of pain are significantly related to appropriate knowledge and attitudes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)209-220
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1996

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Research was supported Health Service grant frcr. cer Institute, (X-57803. MD, Principal Investigator, Pain Project.


  • Cancer pain
  • families
  • knowledge and attitudes


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