What is the meaning of advocacy, and how does it relate to the nurse who wants patients to experience optimum pain management? This question and the lack of empirical data provided the stimulus for the American Society for Pain Management Nursing (ASPMN) Research Committee to explore ASPMN members' beliefs, knowledge, and skills regarding pain management advocacy activities. The specific aim of the study was to determine the educational needs for and barriers of advocacy for nurses working with patients experiencing pain. An ASPMN Advocacy Survey Instrument was developed to gather data about advocacy activities and interventions. The sample consisted of 188 ASPMN nurses (20% of the membership) who responded via the internet. Study findings revealed that the majority of nurse respondents were active in personal advocacy, serving as guardians of the patient. They confronted physicians as necessary and assisted patients to evaluate their pain management. Regarding making the public aware of pain management-related issues (i.e., public awareness advocacy), the respondents were not as active. Respondents were knowledgeable about pain management and best practices/best evidence, with the exceptions of legislative issues and media training. These two areas need support and educational intervention. Additional areas in need of education and training, as identified by respondents, are social and political advocacy interventions. "Lack of time" was identified as the barrier to advocacy experienced by the greatest number of nurses.
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