Oncology nursing certification: Relation to nurses' knowledge and attitudes about pain, patient-reported pain care quality, and pain outcomes

Susan L. Beck, Jeannine M. Brant, Rebecca Donohue, Ellen M.Lavoie Smith, Gail L. Towsley, Patricia H. Berry, Jia Wen Guo, Sharifa Al-Qaaydeh, Marjorie A. Pett, Gary Donaldson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    19 Scopus citations


    Purpose/Objectives: To (a) compare pain knowledge and attitudes between nurses with oncology certified nurse (OCN®) status, non-OCN®-certified nurses, and nurses ineligible for certification and (b) examine the relationships among OCN® status, nurses' knowledge and attitudes about pain, patient-reported quality of nursing pain care, and pain outcomes. Design: Prospective, correlational survey design. Patients were nested within nurses. Setting: Six inpatient oncology units in three hospitals: St. Vincent Healthcare in Billings, Montana; Norris Cotton Cancer Center at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire; and Huntsman Cancer Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah. Sample: 91 nurses in three states (28 OCN®-certified nurses, 37 noncertified nurses, and 26 not eligible for certification). Certification status was validated for 105 nurses who were matched with a sample of 320 patients. Methods: Nurses completed a survey, and matched adult patients who were experiencing pain rated their pain care quality and pain experience during the past shift. Main Research Variables: Demographic characteristics, certification status, and responses to the Nurse Knowledge and Attitudes Survey Regarding Pain (NKASRP), Pain Care Quality Survey-Nursing, and modified Brief Pain Inventory (Short Form). Findings: OCN®-certified nurses scored significantly higher on the NKASRP (82% correct) compared to non-OCN® eligible nurses (76%) and non-OCN® ineligible nurses (74%) (p < 0.001). Only 43% overall achieved a benchmark of 80% correct. No statistically significant relationships existed between (a) certification status and pain care quality or pain outcomes or (b) NKASRP and care quality or outcomes (p > 0.05). Conclusions: OCN®-certified nurses' knowledge and attitudes related to pain management were superior to noncertified nurses. Neither knowledge and attitudes nor OCN® status were associated with pain care quality or pain outcomes. Implications for Nursing: Knowledge is necessary but insufficient to improve patient outcomes; providing optimal pain care requires action. Sustained efforts to improve cancer pain management are indicated.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)67-76
    Number of pages10
    JournalOncology nursing forum
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Jan 2016


    • Nurse certification
    • Oncology
    • Oncology nurses
    • Outcomes
    • Pain
    • Pain attitudes and knowledge
    • Pain care quality

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Oncology(nursing)


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