Patient education, coaching, and self-management for cancer pain

Melanie R. Lovell, Tim Luckett, Frances M. Boyle, Jane Phillips, Meera Agar, Patricia M. Davidson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Purpose: Multiple systematic reviews and meta-analyses have identified the effectiveness of patient education in improving cancer pain management. However, the mechanisms by which patient education improves pain outcomes are uncertain, as are the optimal delivery, content, timing, frequency, and duration. This review provides best-bet recommendations based on available evidence to guide service managers and clinicians in developing a patient education program. Methods: We used patient-centered care, self-management, coaching, and a behavior change wheel as lenses through which to consider the evidence for elements of patient education most likely to be effective within the context of other strategies for overcoming barriers to cancer pain assessment and management. Results: The evidence suggests that optimal strategies include those that are patient-centered and tailored to individual needs, are embedded within health professional-patient communication and therapeutic relationships, empower patients to self-manage and coordinate their care, and are routinely integrated into standard cancer care. An approach that integrates patient education with processes and systems to ensure implementation of key standards for pain assessment and management and education of health professionals has been shown to be most effective. Conclusion: Patient education is effective in reducing cancer pain and should be standard practice in all settings. For optimal results, patient education should be integrated with other strategies for implementing evidence-based, person-centered care and overcoming barriers at the levels of patient, provider, and health system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1712-1720
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Clinical Oncology
Issue number16
StatePublished - Jun 1 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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