Patient Satisfaction With Pain Management Linked To Nurse Staffing

Hospital patients' satisfaction with pain management is linked to nurse staffing, according to an article authored by nurse researchers from the Connell School of Nursing at Boston College and published in the journal Pain Management Nursing.

"Findings from this study support nurses as key contributors to patient satisfaction with pain control," said Connell School of Nursing (CSON) Associate Professor Judith Shindul-Rothschild, the lead author of the article, "Beyond the Pain Scale: Provider Communication and Staffing Predictive of Patients' Satisfaction with Pain Control."

Her co-authors are CSON Associate Professors Jane Flanagan and Catherine Read, and Kelly Stamp, formerly of Boston College and now with the University of North Carolina.

"The findings highlight the need for adequate numbers of nursing staff to achieve optimal patient satisfaction with pain management. In addition, having a prescriber (physician or nurse practitioner) available 24/7 to offer continuity of care is essential."

The research team looked at how hospital characteristics, staffing and nursing care factors were associated with patient satisfaction with pain control. The hospitals studied where in California, Massachusetts and New York and the data was from the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Health Care Providers Systems survey.

"Given the opioid crisis, pain management is front and center in health care today," added Shindul-Rothschild. "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."

Teaching hospitals and a higher number of residents and interns were associated with poor pain control, according to the researchers.

"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 Shindul-Rothschild.

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.


  1. It really doesn’t matter what you say about the subject of pain control and Nurse to patient ratio standards. Neither one will change. Due to the current situation with opioid addiction, practitioners are not prescribing anything. A patient can have their leg amputated and now receive a Tylenol and as long as there is a nurse to scan the medication and give it. Administration does not care if nurses are run to maximum numbers, take no breaks, gobble their food (tell me, what other profession do you work 12+ hours and get a 30 minute lunch break)? The medical field was ruined when corporations made healthcare a business instead of what it is, care of the sick and injured.

  2. Nurses play an essential role in patient satisfaction on all levels! For pain specifically I think listening, never discounting their perception of pain, helping them understand how best to describe it….the old number scale is difficult for some, I like the one with facial expressions, or descriptions such as the worst pain ever in life or I can distract myself from it for short time periods. I also think reassuring them the pain will end. Pain can feel overwhelming (speaking from the point of view of a person who has had two joint replacements), but if you know there is an end in site it is easier to cope/process. Also showing them alternatives to pain meds without making them think they cannot have pain meds, such as heat, ice, repositioning, etc. I also think there are some patients who resist taking pain meds for fear of addiction, those you have to reassure they will not leave the hospital and hit skid row begging for heroin. But to restate my main point, I think listening, not judging, never discounting their experience is really what helps with the satisfaction level.

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