Background: Medical practitioners’ attitudes have a significant impact on quality of care for cancer pain patients. This study was conducted to determine if being given a lecture concerning cancer pain and its management could improve the attitudes of medical students. Materials and
Methods: A comparative study was conducted in 126 fifth-year medical students. Each student completed a pretest consisting of 3 questions about attitudes toward the optimal use of analgesics and 5 questions about attitudes toward prescribing opioids. Then they were given a 1.5-hour lecture, immediately following which they completed a post-test with the same questions.
Results: Analysis with either comparison between groups or by matching, the post-test showed significantly more positive attitudes (p<0.05) of the medical students in all 3 questions about optimal use of analgesics and 4 out of 5 questions about prescription of opioids. The post-test results showed significantly more negative attitudes concerning the most appropriate stage for patients with severe pain to receive maximal doses of analgesics.
Conclusions: Conservative attitudes, especially concerns about addiction, have been associated with a reluctance in many physicians to prescribe opioids. This study found that cancer pain education can help to improve medical student attitudes. However, fear of addiction and tolerance was still evident so emphasis of this particular issue during a lecture is essential. Providing appropriate information by means of a lecture can improve the attitudes of medical students regarding cancer pain management. However, more information should be given to lessen fear of addiction and tolerance.