A pain survey to support role development for Radiation Therapists in Ghana

18 Sep 2020

A research study was conducted at the radiation oncology department of a large teaching hospital in Ghana, to determine whether the use of a pain questionnaire would facilitate a contribution by the radiation therapists (RTs) to the management of pain in the patients undergoing external beam radio- therapy. The rationale for the study was to test the pain questionnaire as a tool for routine use by RTs and to increase the knowledge and skill of the RTs with regard to pain assessment in order that they could have an effective role in the multidisciplinary approach to pain management. The pain questionnaire for administration by RTs was adapted as a tool for assessing pain. The tool and the process were tested in a prospective study of 90 participants who willingly consented to participate. The data was analysed as a means of evaluating the questionnaire and learning about pain in this group of cancer patients. The results of this analysis were integrated with the findings from textual data published in a previous paper. Findings revealed that RTs could administer a limited pain questionnaire and use this for clinical assessment of patients with pain, refer patients who need urgent medical attention to the doctors, monitor the patients receiving radiotherapy and adjuvant chemotherapy as well as provide meaningful suggestions to the multidisciplinary team on the management of pain. Through this reflective process it is recommended that because RTs have daily contact with patients during external beam radiotherapy treatment and because the majority of cancer patients in the study population experience pain, the RTs should enhance their knowledge of pain and participate in routine pain assessment. Through engagement in this role development the quality of care to the patient population in Ghana will be improved.