Use of Complementary Pain Management Strategies in Postoperative Cardiac Surgical Patients

Author Department

Patient Care Services

Document Type

Article, Peer-reviewed

Publication Date



Background: Complementary pain management strategies are effective at reducing pain in postsurgical patients.

Local problem: Cardiac nurses at a large academic hospital reported inconsistent awareness of patient opioid utilization and poor implementation of complementary pain management strategies.

Methods: A pre/post-quality improvement project was conducted on 2 inpatient cardiac units. Outcomes included nursing staff's perceived knowledge, confidence, and use of complementary pain management strategies and knowledge of patient postsurgical opioid utilization through calculation of morphine milligram equivalence (MME).

Interventions: A comprehensive education program was implemented that included increased patient access to pain management resources, nurse education about complementary pain management strategies, and nurse education and access to MME calculations using a custom electronic health record application.

Results: Nursing staff's perceived knowledge, confidence, and use of complementary pain techniques increased. Patient opioid utilization findings were inconclusive.

Conclusions: Educational programs about complementary pain management offer promise to improve cardiac postsurgical patient care.