Insufficient awareness of cancer pain, including breakthrough pain, inadequate analgesic prescriptions, and nonadherence contribute to inadequate cancer pain management. There are insufficient data about the contribution of each of these factors. In a cross-sectional survey among 915 adult cancer outpatients, pain was assessed by the Brief Pain Inventory. Breakthrough pain was defined as a worst pain intensity rated as "7 or more" and an average pain intensity rated as "6 or less" in patients on "around-the-clock" (ATC) analgesics. The Pain Management Index (PMI) was calculated to measure the quality of treatment. Adherence was considered inadequate when below 100% of the dose prescribed. Pain was present in 27% of patients. Worst pain was rated as moderate in 26%, and as severe in 54%. Breakthrough pain was present in 45% of patients with ATC medication. The PMI indicated inadequate treatment in 65% of patients. The proportions of patients adherent to ATC analgesics varied from 59% (tramadol) to 91% (Step 3 opioids). The management of cancer pain will benefit most from improving analgesic prescriptions and patient adherence.

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Journal of Pain and Symptom Management
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Enting, R., Oldenmenger, W., van Gool, A., van der Rijt, C., & Smitt, P. (2007). The Effects of Analgesic Prescription and Patient Adherence on Pain in a Dutch Outpatient Cancer Population. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, 34(5), 523–531. doi:10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2007.01.007