Development of Strategic and Clinical Quality : Indicators in Postoperative Pain Management

Abstract: The aim of this thesis was to identify important aspects of surgical nursing care, designing strategic and clinical quality indicators in postoperative pain management, investigate content validity, develop and evaluate psychometric properties of an instrument to measure the indicators, test the applicability of the instrument and investigate patient and nurse assessment.To identify the important aspects of nursing care which might impact on quality of care in surgical wards, it was conducted 4 focus group interviews with clinical nurses (n=20). A tentative model with 15 categories in 2 dimensions, elements of performance and prerequisites, emerged from the data analysis. The categories were, e.g. detecting and acting on signs and symptoms, informing and educating, promoting relationships, responsibility and attitudes. The model was used as a foundation for developing indicators in postoperative pain management, one in each category, each supported by a literature review. To assess the content validity of the indicators, a questionnaire was compiled and sent to registered nurses with a special interest in pain (n=210) and to a random sample of clinical nurses working in surgical wards (n=321). The groups assessed the indicators as essential for achieving high quality, realistic to carry out and possible for nurses to influence management. The first group validated 14 of the 15 indicators and the second group validated 12 as “major” factors in terms of being essential to achieve high quality of care. The remaining factors were classified as “supportive”. No indicator was discarded.To measure the indicators, an instrument was developed and psychometric properties were evaluated. The indicators were converted to statements suitable for a patient questionnaire and were scored on a 5-point scale with higher values indicating higher quality of care. Patients (n=198) answered the questionnaire on their second postoperative day. The inter-item and item-total correlation coefficients were in a satisfactory range, and Cronbach’s coefficient alpha (0.84) supported internal consistency reliability. Four sub-scales, entitled communication, action, trust and environment emerged from the factor analysis with a total variance of 61.4%. The total scale correlated (rs=0.53) with the single item pain-relief-satisfaction question. The patients who reported more pain than expected scored lower on the total scale and the patients who received epidural analgesia reported higher scores on the total scale. A nurse questionnaire, similar to the patient questionnaire, was compiled. The responsible nurse at the time (n=63) answered 196 questionnaires paired with the individual patient. The new instrument appeared to be useful in identifying important areas for improvement both from the patients’ and nurses’ perspectives, based on the number of disagreements (1 and 2). Differences were found among departments. The patients’ assessments on the environment sub-scale and the overall satisfaction question were higher than the nurses’ assessments. The findings suggest initial support for the instrument as a means to measure the quality of nursing care in postoperative pain management. Key words: quality indicators; health care, pain; postoperative, focus groups, psychometrics, questionnaires, nursing care.