An educational intervention to reduce pain and improve pain management for Malawian people living with HIV/AIDS and their family carers: A randomized controlled trial

Kennedy Nkhoma (Lead Author), Jane Seymour, Antony Arthur

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CONTEXT: Advances being made in improving access to HIV drugs in resource-poor countries mean HIV patients are living longer, and, therefore, experiencing pain over a longer period of time. There is a need to provide effective interventions for alleviating and managing pain.
OBJECTIVES: To assess whether a pain educational intervention compared with usual care reduces pain severity and improves pain management in patients with HIV/AIDS and their family carers.
METHODS: This was a randomized, parallel group, superiority trial conducted at HIV and palliative care clinics of two public hospitals in Malawi. A total of 182 adults with HIV/AIDS (Stage III or IV) and their family carers participated; carer participants were those individuals most involved in the patient's unpaid care. The educational intervention comprised a 30 minute face-to-face meeting, a leaflet, and a follow-up telephone call at two weeks. The content of the educational intervention covered definition, causes, and characteristics of pain in HIV/AIDS; beliefs and myths about pain and pain medication; assessment of pain; and pharmacological and nonpharmacological management. The primary outcome was average pain severity measured by the Brief Pain Inventory-Pain Severity subscale. Assessments were recorded at baseline before randomization and at eight weeks after randomization. RESULTS: Of the 182 patient/carer dyads randomly allocated, 157 patient/carer dyads completed the trial. Patients in the intervention group experienced a greater decrease in pain severity (mean difference = 21.09 points, 95% confidence interval = 16.56-25.63; P < 0.001). CONCLUSION: A short pain education intervention is effective in reducing pain and improving pain management for Malawian people living with HIV/AIDS and their family carers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)80–90.e4
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Issue number1
Early online date7 Feb 2015
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2015


  • trial
  • pain
  • carers
  • educational intervention
  • palliative care

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