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The perception of health professionals about pain management and opioid use: a qualitative study

Pain is a public health problem whose management shows a series of deficiencies. This study evaluates both perception and knowledge of pharmacists, physicians and nurses about pain management and aspects related to utilization of opioids such as legislation, side effects, creeds, fear and prejudice. This exploratory qualitative study was conducted by means of focal interviews of a stratified random sample composed by thirty pharmacists, physicians and nurses. The results show that the health professionals, although being familiar with some aspects, need to acquire more knowledge about this subject. Pharmacists and physicians showed more knowledge about side effects while nurses knew more about analgesic scales. Some subjective aspects regarding opioid utilization observed in the study, among others fear and prejudice, might be contributing to the under-utilization of these drugs. There is an undeniable need for a multi-disciplinary approach of health professionals for managing pain and improving the quality of life of the patients.

Pain; Opiophobia; Health professionals

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