Date of Conferral



Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)




Lilo Fink


Cancer pain is a complex symptom that affects the quality of life of oncology patients, caregivers, and families. The limitations of pain management treatment for cancer patients can be attributed to the lack of knowledge and availability of nonpharmacological treatments. The purpose of this project was to identify and gather evidence on the effectiveness of nonpharmacological interventions in the treatment of cancer pain using the methodology of a systematic review. Watson's theory of human caring supported the project by incorporating the perception of treating the human being holistically during the illness process. The Johns Hopkins nursing evidence-based practice model provided a structured approach to address the practice problem and practice-focused question. The tools used to assess the quality and synthesize the findings of the studies were the Research and Evidence Appraisal Tool and the Synthesis Process and Recommendations Tool. The practice-focused question explored whether nonpharmacological interventions could be used to complement opioid treatments for cancer pain. A systematic review of the literature indicated 11 studies in which 2 interventions--music therapy and exercise--addressed the practice-focused question. Psychological distress, decreased physical function, and decreased involvement in social activities can all be attributed to the poor management of cancer pain. The study of alternatives to opioids could support social change by increasing the knowledge of healthcare professionals and the range of treatment options for pain management in cancer patients.

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