ABSTRACT: Physicians’ self-assessment of cancer pain treatment skills–more training required.
Adequate pain control is essential in cancer treatment. We surveyed Finnish physicians’ perception on their skills and training needs on palliative pain management.
A structured questionnaire with multiple choices and open ended questions was used for collecting data in 2006-2008. Of 720 physicians participating, 59 were working in oncology and 661 physicians in internal medicine, geriatrics, and primary health care.
The principles of the WHO guidelines of cancer pain management were not well known. Forty-six percent of oncologists and 32% of other physicians (P < 0.0001) knew the analgesic ladder consisting of three steps. Forty-seven percent of oncologists and 61% of other physicians considered pain treatment of cancer patients being well managed in Finland. Only 24% of oncologists and 5% of other physicians considered the education in palliative care being currently at a satisfactory level. Oncologists reported a need of training in interaction and communication skills, ethical questions, and palliative home care. The other physicians expressed the strongest need for training in pain management and palliative care.
To have more confidence in treating cancer, pain physicians would benefit in training and education in palliative care. It should be systematically included both in general and specialist training and continuous medical education.