AIMS AND OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this study was to assess the effectiveness of a pain management education programme in improving the nurses' knowledge about, attitude towards and application of relaxation therapy. BACKGROUND: Pain of surgical patients has long been an existing problem of health care. Nursing staff need to be educated continuously to develop the professional ability of pain management. METHODS: A quasi-study design with pre- and posttest and post- and posttest was used. Subjects were chosen from a medical centre in Taipei by convenience sampling. The total sample size of 81 was segregated into a study group of 42 and control group of 39 participants. The study group attended a seven-session pain management programme totalling 15 hours. The control group received no pain management training. Scaled measurements were taken on pain management knowledge and attitude and relaxation therapy practice. RESULTS: (1) Scores for pain management knowledge differed significantly between the two groups (F = 40.636, p = 0.001). (2) Attitudes towards pain management differed between the two groups (F = 8.328, p = 0.005) and remained stable over time (F = 1.603, p = 0.205). (3) Relaxation therapy practice differed significantly between the two groups, with the study group better than the control group (F = 4.006, p = 0.049). (4) Relaxation therapy was applied to nearly all (97.5%) of the patients cared for by study group nurses. All of the instructed patients performed this technique one to three times per day postsurgery. CONCLUSIONS: Continuing education can improve nurses' knowledge about, attitude towards and behaviour of pain management. RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE: Results of this study could be used to guide the development and implementation of continuing education programmes for nursing staff to enhance patients' care knowledge and skills.
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