Barriers to pain assessment and management in cancer survivorship

Virginia Sun, Tami Borneman, Barbara Piper, Marianna Koczywas, Betty Ferrell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Healthcare providers frequently lack the knowledge and skills to provide optimal pain management for cancer survivors. Scientific evidence and clinical guidelines are lacking in the management of chronic, persistent pain in survivors. The purpose of this article is to describe pain-related issues of cancer survivors using case presentations of selected patients enrolled in a randomized trial to eliminate barriers to pain management. Case presentations were selected from a National Cancer Institute-funded study that utilizes patient and professional educational content derived from the clinical guidelines of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network. Case presentation criteria included a pain rating of ≥6 and diagnosis of Stage I, II, or III of the following cancers: breast, colon, lung, or prostate cancer. Cases are presented based on the study's framework of patient, professional, and system-related barriers to optimal pain relief. Across all three case presentations, barriers such as fear of side effects from pain medications, fear of addiction, lack of professional knowledge of the basic principles of pain management, and lack of timely access to pain medications due to reimbursement issues are prevalent in cancer survivorship. Chronic pain syndromes related to cancer treatments are common in cancer survivors. Patient, professional, and system-related barriers that are seen during active treatment continue to hinder optimal pain relief during survivorship. Healthcare providers must acknowledge the impact of chronic, persistent pain on the quality of cancer survivorship. Clinical as well as scientific efforts to increase knowledge in chronic pain management will improve the symptom management of cancer survivors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)65-71
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Cancer Survivorship
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Barriers
  • Chronic pain management
  • Survivorship

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Oncology(nursing)


Dive into the research topics of 'Barriers to pain assessment and management in cancer survivorship'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this