Nurses and non-pharmacological pain management in palliative care
: A Qualitative study

  • Wisdom Muleya Munkombwe

Student thesis: Master, two years



The aim of the study was to explore the experiences and views of nurses on the use of non-pharmacological therapies of chronic pain management in palliative care patients.


Non-pharmacological therapies have become increasingly popular because of limited effectiveness of pharmacological management of chronic pain. Therefore, nurses’ knowledge of non-pharmacological therapies is essential in palliative care.


A qualitative exploratory research approach was used in the study to describe and clarify in-depth information about nurses’ experiences.


The study used semi-structured interviews involving 15 nurses who were purposefully sampled. Data was analysed through inductive content analysis.


The results comprised four categories: Building and sustaining favourable therapeutic relationship: Experiences of nurses showed that creating conducive environment for nurse-patient engagement was vital in pain management. Recognising diversity of patient’s needs: The view was that non-pharmacological therapies worked better if patients were individualised. Incorporating significant others: Results revealed that nurses needed patient’s close friends, church, and family in patient’s pain management. Recognising existence of barriers: Barriers such as patient’s cooperation, nurses’ knowledge, and economic factors limited adequate non-pharmacological pain management.


Nurses view the use of non-pharmacological therapies of chronic pain management in palliative care patients as beneficial especially if nurse-related and patient-related barriers are addressed.Relevance to clinical practiceThe study holds the perspective that non-pharmacological therapies in palliative care require nurses to be versatile in managing chronic pain of their patients.

Date of Award2020-Feb-25
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorCarina Elgán (Supervisor) & Kerstin Petersson (Examiner)

Educational program

  • Masterprogram Integrerad hälsovetenskap

University credits

  • 30 HE credits

Swedish Standard Keywords

  • Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology (30302)


  • nurses’ experience
  • qualitative exploratory research
  • non-pharmacological
  • pain management
  • palliative care
  • zambia

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