An educational intervention to reduce pain and improve pain related outcomes for Malawian people living with HIV/AIDS and their family carers: a randomised controlled trial

Nkhoma, Kennedy Bashan (2015) An educational intervention to reduce pain and improve pain related outcomes for Malawian people living with HIV/AIDS and their family carers: a randomised controlled trial. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

PDF (Thesis - as examined) - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Download (5MB) | Preview


Background: Many HIV/AIDS patients experience pain. This is often associated with advanced HIV/AIDS infection and side effects of treatment. In sub-Saharan Africa, pain management for people with HIV/AIDS is suboptimal. With survival extended as a direct consequence of improved access to antiretroviral therapy, the prevalence of HIV/AIDS related pain is increasing. As most care is provided at home, the management of pain requires patient and family involvement. Pain education is an important aspect in the management of pain in HIV/AIDS patients.

Aim: The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of a pain educational intervention on pain severity and pain related outcomes among patients with HIV/AIDS and their family carers.


Two systematic reviews were conducted: (1) to examine the evidence base of the effectiveness of educational interventions delivered to people living with HIV/AIDS on pain severity, pain interference, quality of life, knowledge of pain management, and (2)

To examine the evidence base of the effectiveness of educational interventions delivered to their family carers on knowledge of pain management, quality of life and carer motivation.

A randomised controlled trial was conducted at the HIV and palliative care clinics of two public hospitals in Malawi. To be eligible, patient participants had a diagnosis of HIV/AIDS (stage III or IV). Carer participants were individuals most involved in the patient’s unpaid care. Eligible participants were randomised to either: (1) a 30-minute face–to-face educational intervention covering pain assessment and management, augmented by a leaflet and follow-up telephone call at two weeks; or (2) usual care. Those allocated to the usual care group receive the educational intervention after follow-up assessments had been conducted (wait-list control group). The primary outcome was average pain severity measured by the Brief Pain Inventory. Secondary outcomes were pain interference, patient knowledge of pain management, patient quality of life. Carer outcomes were; carer knowledge of pain management, caregiver motivation and carer quality of life. Follow-up assessments were conducted eight weeks after randomisation by nurses’ blind to allocation.


Systematic review

Eight published randomised controlled trials of educational interventions among patients with HIV/AIDS were identified. Only one study examined the effect on pain severity but the results were not statistically significant. Three studies reported positive effects in improving severity and frequency of symptoms, three reported improvement in quality of life and two studies found improvement in knowledge.

Seven published studies of family carers of HIV/AIDS patients were identified. Only three of which were randomised controlled trials. Five of these reported that educational interventions were effective in reducing psychosocial outcomes. Two studies reported that the interventions improved knowledge outcomes among family carers of HIV/AIDS patients.


Of the 182 patients/carers dyads randomised; 167 patients and 157 carers completed the trial. At follow-up, patients in the intervention group experienced a greater decrease in average pain severity score 21.25 (mean difference 21.25, 95% confidence interval 16.7 to 25.8; P <0.001). Patients in the intervention group reported, less pain interference (mean difference 24.5, 95% confidence interval 19.61 to 29.38; P<0.001), had improved knowledge of pain management (mean difference 20.39, 95% confidence interval 17.51 to 23.27; P<0.001), and a better quality of life (mean difference 28.76, 95% confidence interval 24.62 to 32.91; P<0.001). At follow-up carers in the intervention group had improved knowledge (mean difference 20.32, 95% confidence interval 17.37 to 23.28; P<0.001), greater motivation (mean difference 7.64, 95% confidence interval 5.15 to 10.13; P<0.001) and better quality of life (mean difference 34.16, 95% confidence interval 30.15 to 38.17; P<0.001).


Current evidence of educational interventions among HIV/AIDS and family carers on pain severity is inconclusive and based on a relatively small number of studies, many of which have methodological problems.

A relatively simple form of pain education is effective in reducing pain and improving outcomes for patients with HIV/AIDS and their carers. Greater attention needs to be given to incorporating this into the routine care of people with HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa.

Trial registration: Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN72861423

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Arthur, Tony
Seymour, Jane
Keywords: aids, hiv, malawi, pain, pain management, education, educational, pain education, palliative care, carers, trial, educational intervention
Subjects: W Medicine and related subjects (NLM Classification) > WA Public health
W Medicine and related subjects (NLM Classification) > WD Disorders of systemic, metabolic or environmental origin
W Medicine and related subjects (NLM Classification) > WL Nervous system
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > School of Health Sciences
Item ID: 30513
Depositing User: Nkhoma, Kennedy
Date Deposited: 14 Jan 2016 15:17
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2017 17:39

Actions (Archive Staff Only)

Edit View Edit View