Adequacy of pain management in HIV-positive patients

  • C Narasimooloo
  • SS Naidoo
  • BM Gaede
Keywords: HIV, pain, assessment, management


Background: A growing body of literature supports the view that people infected with HIV suffer significant pain and that pain is not well recognised or managed by health care professionals. This study investigated the prevalence, severity, recognition and management of pain in adult patients with HIV infection in a South African hospital setting. Methods: The Brief Pain Inventory (BPI) (short form) questionnaire was administered to 100 consecutive, consenting HIVpositive patients admitted to an urban district-level hospital in KwaZulu-Natal. Convenience sampling was employed with participants recruited on consecutive days. Data sources comprised patient interviews and review of hospital records. A Pain Management Index derived from the BPI was calculated to establish the adequacy of pain management. Descriptive statistics were tabulated for the recognition of pain, pain severity and appropriateness of analgesia. Correlation analyses were used to assess the association between pain and daily life. Results: Ninety-one per cent of participants reported pain with 83% experiencing significant pain, in other words a “worst pain” rating of five or above on the BPI (short form) questionnaire. The correlation analysis between the severity of pain and its interference with daily life suggests that moderate and severe pain interferes with the patients’ daily functioning. Pain was documented on 71% of the patients’ medical charts that were reviewed; however, only 34% were considered to be adequately managed for their pain. Conclusion: Pain prevalence is high in the sample. While pain was recognised and noted in the majority of patients’ medical records, the management of pain was considered to be inadequate in a third of those experiencing pain.

Keywords: HIV; pain; assessment; management


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2078-6204
print ISSN: 2078-6190