Effectiveness of Education Interventions for the Management of Cancer Pain: A Systematic Review


Background: Many cancer patients experience poor pain control due to various factors, including misconceptions regarding the use of opioid analgesics. For management of cancer pain, interventions involving education of both patients and physicians have been attempted.
Objectives: This review aimed to assess thecurrent evidence of the benefits of education for the management of cancer pain.
Methods: We searched the Medline, EMBASE, Cochrane library, and major Korean databases to identify relevant studies. We included most study designs, but excluded case series. The primary outcomes were pain intensity and quality of life (QoL). Two reviewers assessed the risk of bias using the Cochrane’s tool for RCT and Risk of Bias Assessment tool for Non-randomized Studies (RoBANS) for non-randomized studies, independently.
Results: After extensive searches,3,324 publications were screened, and 32 studies were selected. The education interventions used in the included studies included a wide variety of education methods, but the most common method was a booklet produced for patients. Regardless of the education method used, the results of the meta-analysis were as follows. The SMDs of the most severe, average, and current pain in the RCTs were significant. The SMD of worst, average, and current pain were –0.34 (-0.55, -0.13), -0.40 (-0.64, -0.15), and -0.79 (-1.35, -0.23). In the non-randomized studies, the effects on average pain were significant, but those on worst and current pain were not.
Conclusions: Education intervention reduced the pain of cancer patients. Therefore, patient education could be considered to be an effective method of cancer pain management. However, our data should be interpreted with caution, and studies using standardized protocols are needed to confirm these observations.