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A systematic review of qualitative research exploring patient and health professional perspectives of breakthrough cancer pain

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-11-16, 00:57 authored by GB Crawford, Ali LakhaniAli Lakhani, L Palmer, M Sebalj, P Rolan
Purpose: Breakthrough cancer pain (BtCP) is a prevalent health issue which is difficult to manage. A plethora of quantitative research in this area exists. There is a paucity of research on the perspectives of health professionals and patients surrounding domains impacting effective treatment, including definitions of BtCP, treatment, and education opportunities. This review aims to identify and synthesize the extent of qualitative research exploring health professional and patient perspectives of BtCP. Methods: A systematic review following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) approach was undertaken. The approach was registered with Prospero. MEDLINE, EMBASE, and Web of Science were searched for peer-reviewed literature published any date prior to May 19, 2022. Eligible sources must have considered health professional and/or patient perspectives of BtCP. A narrative synthesis approach was utilized. Results: Three sources met the review criteria. One source explored nurse perspectives, while two sources explored patient perspectives. Study quality was moderate to high. Overlapping themes across the three studies included communication, defining BtCP, impact of BtCP, management of BtCP, perceptions of BtCP, analgesia and pain relief, and training and professional development. Conclusion: Given limited research investigating clinician and patient perspectives of BtCP, a rich understanding informed by exploratory qualitative methods around identification, best management strategies, professional development, and factors promoting and inhibiting best practice remains unclear. Further qualitative inquiry is warranted, and it is expected such research will inform BtCP clinical guidelines.


This study was funded by a Menarini Education grant. The funders have not provided input into the manuscript content.


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Supportive Care in Cancer





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