Cancer pain education: A structured clinical instruction module for hospice nurses

Margaret A. Plymale, Paul A. Sloan, Mitzi Johnson, Pat LaFountain, Janet Snapp, Barb Vanderveer, David A. Sloan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The learning experience with the Cancer Pain Structured Clinical Instruction Module (SCIM), a highly structured skills training course for medical students, has been reported favorably. The purpose of this study was to present the Cancer Pain SCIM to registered nurses employed in a hospice setting. The goal of the study was to pilot test a structured cancer pain educational program for hospice nurses and to determine the perceived effectiveness of this course on the participants' cancer pain assessment and management skills. A multidisciplinary Cancer Pain SCIM was presented to 25 hospice nurses to improve their understanding of the management of cancer pain. The development group identified essential aspects of cancer pain management and then developed checklists defining specific station content. During the 2-hour Cancer Pain SCIM, nurses rotated through 8 stations in groups of 3, spending 15 minutes at each station. Eight instructors and 6 standardized patients, 5 of whom were survivors of cancer, participated in the course. All participants (students, instructors, and patients) evaluated the course, using a 5-point Likert scale (1 = strongly disagree; 5 = strongly agree). Nurses provided self-assessments of their perceived competence on important aspects of cancer pain management both before and after the SCIM. The self-assessment items used a 5-point scale ranging from 1 (not competent) to 5 (very competent). Twenty-five hospice nurses, averaging 4.1 years (range 1-30 years) postgraduation, participated in the Cancer Pain SCIM. Overall, nurses agreed that they improved on each of the 8 teaching items (P < 0.001). The average (SD) pretest score of 2.8 (0.72) improved to 3.8 (0.58) on the post-test (P < 0.001). Nurses believed that their mastery of specific clinical skills, taught in all 8 stations, improved as a result of participation in the course. Nurses strongly agreed (mean ± SD) that it was beneficial to use patients with cancer in the course (4.6 ± 0.82). Faculty members enjoyed participating in the course (4.9 ± 0.35) and indicated a willingness to participate in future courses (4.7 ± 0.49). Significant perceived learning among hospice nurses took place in all aspects of the Cancer Pain SCIM. Participating nurses, instructors, and patients with cancer appreciated the SCIM format. Nurses and faculty considered the participation of actual patients with cancer highly beneficial. The SCIM format has great potential to improve the quality of cancer pain education.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)424-429
Number of pages6
JournalCancer Nursing
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2001


  • Cancer pain
  • Education
  • Hospice nurses
  • Structured clinical instruction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Oncology(nursing)


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