Experiences of Pain Management Nurses during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Qualitative Study

Barbara J. St. Marie, Jinbing Bai, Mitchell R. Knisely, Staja Q. Booker, Anitha Saravanan, Timothy Joseph Sowicz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The knowledge and skills of pain management nurses positions them well to manage people's pain and provide critical services to patients with COVID-19. Aim: To understand the personal and professional experiences and the support pain management nurses received during the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: Between July 2020 and 2021, data were collected through semi-structured telephone interviews from members of the American Society for Pain Management Nursing. Content analysis was used. Results: Eighteen pain management nurses who worked during the early stages of the pandemic were interviewed. Three main categories were identified: experiencing stress and burden, pain management strategies changed, learning to cope with support. Pain management nurses reported fear of exposure, difficulties with staff shortages, the complex social milieu, and how pain management took a backseat to other symptoms of COVID-19. They coped through support from their colleagues, organizational leaders, and community members. Pain management nurses provided recommendations for future care of patients’ pain during a pandemic. Conclusions: Pain management nurses shared their professional and personal experiences and the support they received while managing patients’ pain during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their experiences provided findings on the importance of pain management and to support nurses during personal and professional vulnerabilities during crises. Key recommendations on the care of patients’ pain in future pandemics included developing expertise in pain management and health-related emergencies; engaging nurses in supportive mental health services, infectious disease testing, and vaccine efforts; and planning for surge capacity to reach out to underserved people living with pain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)603-609
Number of pages7
JournalPain Management Nursing
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2023
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing


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