Biobehavioral Sciences

Pain Management

Improved Cancer Pain Treatment through a Multimodal Education Program
Principal Investigator: Karen Syrjala, PhD

This project successfully developed and tested a multimodal format for cancer pain education. The needs of oncologists, nurses, patients and their families were met by providing a methodology that facilitated the proper application of current medications and palliative techniques. The format made optimal use of oncologist and nurse time, had low patient burden and can be easily reproduced by each patient with cancer pain.

Overall, the project tested whether this multimodal program improved pain management by preparing oncologists and nurses to assess and respond to patient pain problems. Additionally, this project determined that patient and family education using a videotape and written materials, supplemented with brief nurse interaction, improves cancer pain control.

Patients receiving the pain materials reported significant improvement in knowledge of pain treatment when compared to patients in a control group that received similar materials focused on nutrition needs. In addition, patients in the pain material group also reported significantly less pain than patients in the nutrition group (25% less mean pain). Finally, the doctors' and nurses' ratings of the pain group patients were significantly closer to their patients' pain ratings than those of the nutrition group.

Opioid Side Effects
Principal Investigator: Varied Collaborations

A series of NCI-funded studies have examined opioid side effects in the human subjects laboratory. Collaborations with Drs. Danny Shen and Barbara Coda have determined differences in opioid side effect profiles, trajectory of side effects relative to analgesic efficacy, gender similarities or differences in opioid metabolism, and modulation of opioid pharmacokinetics, analgesia and side effects when combined with common nutritional and herbal supplements. We have also developed and tested outcome measures of opioid side effects.