Pain and addiction: An urgent need for change in nursing education

Betty R. Ferrell, Margo McCaffery, Michelle Rhiner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


Lack of education of health care professionals, including nurses, is frequently cited as a major reason for undertreatment of patients with pain. A reason for undertreatment of pain with opioid analgesics is the irrational fear of creating opioid addiction. To characterize the information nurses receive in their basic education that could contribute to misinformation about this issue, the authors reviewed 14 nursing textbooks, published since 1985, including 8 pharmacology texts and 6 medical surgical texts. An analysis of content revealed that only one textbook correctly stated the definition of opioid addiction and its likelihood following use of opioid analgesics for pain control. Almost all of the texts used confusing terminology, and some erroneously promoted the fear of addiction when opioids are used for pain relief. A simple solution to this problem is to encourage nursing educators to use the American Pain Society publication "Guidelines for Analgesic Use" until textbooks have the opportunity to incorporate correct information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)117-124
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1992


  • Nursing education
  • nursing textbooks
  • opioid addiction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Pain and addiction: An urgent need for change in nursing education'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this