Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy


Health and Rehabilitation Sciences


Dr. Joy C MacDermid


Pain management is a common concern of multiple health professionals. Evidence-based practice (EBP) in pain management is a recognized approach used to improve health outcomes. EBP tools can facilitate its implementation. PAIN+ is a tool that provides access to pre-appraised current best research evidence on pain to support clinical decisions. It is important to understand the knowledge, attitudes and behavior of professionals towards EBP and more specifically how they access research about pain management.

The overarching purpose of this thesis is to better understand how clinicians from different professions involved in pain management view EBP and implement specific strategies to find pain related research evidence. We conducted a series of studies incorporating various methods to address these questions. Data was collected supplementary to a large randomized control trial to compare “Push” vs. “Pull” strategies for uptake of pain research. In the first study, we compared the knowledge, attitudes, outcomes expectations and behaviors of physicians, nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and psychologists towards EBP in pain management using a validated knowledge attitude and behavior (KABQ) questionnaire. In the second study, we used a mixed methods approach to understand the competencies of clinicians accessing electronic databases to search for evidence on pain management. In the third study, we performed a structured classification of the abstracts that were viewed by clinicians to understand their access behaviors. In the last part of the thesis, we compared the usefulness of PAIN+ with PubMed using a randomized crossover trial approach.

The results of this thesis indicate that the professionals involved in pain management have good knowledge of and attitudes towards EBP, but behavior i.e. implementation of EBP in practice and perception of outcomes of implementing EBP were low. In the second study, we found that professionals had acceptable levels of basic literature searching skills but had low levels of use of more advanced skills, and were not aware of using clinical queries in their search. In the third study, we found that all professionals accessed research evidence when provided alerts about pain research and some variations in the types of studies accessed were observed. Differences in access behaviors might reflect differences in professional approach to pain management. In our fourth study the crossover randomized controlled trial; we found PAIN+ and PubMed were both rated useful in retrieving pain evidence for clinicians.

Professionals showed an interest in evidence-based pain management, but their skills for finding evidence were limited, they appeared to need training in locating and appraising pain related research evidence, and may benefit from tools that reduce this burden.