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Topic 4: Assessment and management of pain

Effective pain management is a core element of palliative care practice. Uncontrolled pain can cause significant distress and disability.


Topic 4: Assessment and management of pain will help you develop the knowledge and skills needed to assess and manage pain experienced by people with a life-limiting condition.

Aims & Objectives

After completing this topic, you should be able to:

  • apply assessment and management principles when caring for people with life-limiting conditions experiencing pain.


4.1 The experience of pain

  • describe the impact of pain on people with life-limiting conditions
  • outline barriers to effective management of pain.
  • The experience of pain at end of life
    • Common pain experiences
    • Multidimensional experience of pain
    • Symptom clusters
  • Barriers to effective management of pain
    • Patient and family concerns
    • Health professional concerns
  • Case study – Tom’s full story

4.2 Assessing and managing pain – pharmacological approaches

  • dentify evidence based pain assessment strategies
  • describe indications for common pharmacological pain management approaches
  • describe indications for intima sub-cutaneous lines for pain relief, anti-nausea and steroid injections
  • describe indications  and contraindications for use of syringe drivers in administration of pain medication
  • outline common side effects of pharmacological pain management and strategies to prevent and manage.
  • Pain assessment strategies
  • Principles of pain management
  • The World Health Organisation Pain Ladder
  • Pharmacological therapies
    • Choosing the right medication and route
    • Subcutaneous administration of analgesia,
    • anti-nausea agents and steroids
    • side effects of pain management
  • Syringe driver management

4.3 Non-pharmacological pain management

describe indications for common non-pharmaceutical and complementary care in the management of pain.
  • Indications for complementary and alternative therapies

4.4 Simulation of pain assessment and management

  • demonstrate evidence based assessment and management of pain.
  • Simulation scenario – Geoff Holder

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