Patient-controlled oral analgesia for acute abdominal pain: A before-and-after intervention study on pain intensity and use of analgesics

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Aim: To compare the use of patient-controlled oral analgesia with nurse-controlled analgesia for patients admitted to hospital with acute abdominal pain. The primary outcome measure was pain intensity. The secondary outcome measures were the use of analgesics and antiemetics. Background: Inadequate pain management of patients with acute abdominal pain can occur during hospital admission. Unrelieved acute pain can result in chronic pain, stroke, bleeding and myocardial ischemia. Methods: A before-and-after intervention study was conducted in an emergency department and a surgical department with three subunits. Data were collected from medical charts and analyzed using chi-squared and Kruskal–Wallis tests. Results: A total of 170 patients were included. The median pain intensity score, using the numeric ranking scale, was 2.5 and 2 on Day 2 (p = 0.10), 2 and 2 on Day 3 (p = 0,40), 2.5 and 0 on Day 4 (p = 0.10), 2 and 0 on Day 5 (p = 0.045) in the control and intervention group, respectively. The percentage of patients receiving analgesics was 93 and 86 on Day 2 (p = 0.20), 91 and 75 on Day 3 (p = 0.02), 89 and 67 on Day 4 (p = 0.009) and 80 and 63 on Day 5 (p = 0.39). The use of antiemetics was similar in the two groups. Conclusion: Patient-controlled oral analgesia significantly reduced the numerical ranking pain scale score on Day 5 and the consumption of analgesics on Days 3 and 4 after hospital admission. Patient-controlled oral analgesia is feasible as pain management for patients, but only with minor impact on experienced pain intensity and use of analgesics.

Original languageEnglish
JournalApplied Nursing Research
Pages (from-to)110-115
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018


  • Acute pain
  • Pain management
  • Patient involvement
  • Patient-centered care
  • Self-administered medication


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