A Canadian online survey of oncology nurses’ perspectives on the management of breakthrough pain in cancer (BTPc)

Margaret I. Fitch, Alison McAndrew, Stephanie Burlein-Hall


This paper explores Canadian oncology nurses’ perception of management of breakthrough pain in cancer (BTPc). An online questionnaire was distributed to 668 oncology nurses across Canada, and 201 participated. More nurses reported that patients used hydromorphone (99.5%), morphine (97.0%), codeine (88.1%), or oxycodone (88.1%) for BTPc, than fentanyl preparations (64.7%). Problems with opioid administration reported by nurses included failure to work quickly enough (35.7%), difficulty swallowing (16.6%), need for caregiver assistance (13.2%), mouth sores (12.6%) and dry mouth (11.5%). Although most nurses discussed BTPc management with their patients, the vast majority (72.2%) were not very satisfied with current treatment modalities. Effective dialogue with patients and access to educational resources/tools may help optimize therapy and enhance concordance with BTPc medications.

Key words: breakthrough cancer pain, nursing, pain management, Canadian

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