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Knowledge Toward Cancer Pain and the Use of Opioid Analgesics Among Medical Students in their Integrated Clinical Clerkship

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Author(s): Maria Fidelis C. Manalo

Journal: Palliative Care : Research and Treatment
ISSN 1178-2242

Volume: 2;
Issue: Recent Developments;
Start page: 9;
Date: 2008;
Original page

Keywords: knowledge about opioids | medical students

ABSTRACT
Introduction: Among the focal issues of barriers to pain management include the physicians’ lack of knowledge about cancer pain and negative attitudes towards opioids. Many physicians and educators attribute this, at least in part, to limited exposure to pain and palliative care education during medical school.Aim: The researcher investigated the medical students’ knowledge about cancer pain and the use of opioid analgesics.Methods: The subjects were a sample of 50 students of the University of the Philippines College of Medicine in their integrated clinical clerkship year. Descriptive statistics (frequencies, means, standard deviation, rating scales) were used to determine mean knowledge score and level of confidence with opioid use. The study also identified specific areas where students exhibited good or poor knowledge of opioids.Results: Approximately sixty-nine (69%) of the study respondents mentioned that pain management was given to them during their Anesthesiology lectures while a few recalled that they had these lectures during their Family Medicine rotation in Supportive, Palliative and Hospice Care. More than a third (35%) of the respondents admitted to not being confident with morphine use at present. The top three reasons cited as limitations in choice of opioids for cancer pain include fear of addiction, lack of adequate knowledge and experience and fear of side effects and complications. Out of a maximum of 13 correct answers, the mean knowledge score of the medical students was 6.6 ± 2.9. Less than 16% of the respondents had adequate knowledge on cancer pain and opioid use.Conclusions: The results show that basic knowledge of the role of opioids in cancer pain management among medical students in their integrated clinical clerkship year at the University of the Philippines is poor. The findings imply a need to look into making revisions in the medical curriculum to include a training program that will enable all students to graduate with basic competency in pain management and palliative care.
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