Nurses’ experiences of providing nonpharmacological pain management in palliative care: A qualitative study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Aim and objectives: To explore the experiences and views of nurses who provide nonpharmacological therapies for chronic pain management in palliative care. Background: Nursing expertise in palliative care is essential in providing pain relief to patients with chronic diseases. Examinations of the use of nonpharmacological therapies for chronic pain management in palliative care have revealed what nonpharmacological therapies have been used, but there is insufficient knowledge regarding nurses’ attitudes, views and experiences regarding pain therapies in this context. Design: A qualitative descriptive design was chosen. Methods: Data were collected through individual interviews in a purposive sample with 15 nurses to ensure maximum variation. The data were analysed using qualitative content analysis. This study aligns with the consolidated criteria for reporting qualitative research (COREQ) checklist. Results: The analysis yielded four categories, as follows: “building and sustaining favourable therapeutic relationships” involved the creation of trust and a solid relationship; in “recognising the diversity of patients’ needs,” person-centred care is expressed as being vital for individualised nonpharmacological pain management; “incorporating significant others” describes how nurses can help to ease the patient's pain by identifying positive encounters with family members or friends; and in “recognising the existence of barriers,” nurses highlight vulnerable groups such as children, for whom nurses require special education to enable optimal nonpharmacological pain management. Conclusion: The unique knowledge that nurses gain about the patient through the nurse–patient relationship is central and crucial for successful nonpharmacological pain management. Relevance to clinical practice: This study emphasises the need for nurses to get to know their patient and to be open and sensitive to patients’ descriptions of their unique life situations, as this provides the necessary knowledge for optimal care and pain management. Nurses should be encouraged and given the opportunity to attend specialised training in palliative care and pain management.


  • Wisdom Muleya Munkombwe
  • Kerstin Petersson
  • Carina Elgán
External organisations
  • Kristianstad University
  • Livingstone Central Hospital
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Nursing


  • content analysis, nurse–patient relationship, nursing, pain management, palliative care, qualitative study
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1643-1652
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Issue number9-10
Early online date2020 Mar 4
Publication statusPublished - 2020 May
Publication categoryResearch