Pharmacy World and Science

, 28:342 | Cite as

Design and validation of a medication assessment tool for cancer pain management

  • Gro Dahlseng HåkonsenEmail author
  • Steve Hudson
  • Thrina Loennechen
Original Paper



A clinical tool to examine prescribing in cancer pain management may provide a means to help establish acceptable standards of adherence to treatment guidelines. The study aim was to design and validate a Medication Assessment Tool for Cancer Pain Management (MAT-CP).


Hospitals in Northern Norway


The MAT-CP was designed from guideline criteria based on a previously developed method. The tool was validated by peer review before and during field-testing on a study sample of cancer patients experiencing pain.

Main outcome measure

Perceived relevance, utility, and clarity of individual criteria, and reliability of their application to clinical documentation. Frequency of adherence to agreed definitions of guideline criteria.


The final tool comprised 36 criteria covering six different aspects of cancer pain management: (1) pain assessment and information transfer, (2) start of strong opioid therapy; (3) current continuous analgesia; (4) current intermittent analgesia; (5) follow-up of therapy, and; (6) other care issues. The tool was tested on 109 cancer patients experiencing pain (57 males), mean (SD) age 60.8 (11.5) years. Guideline adherence overall was 61% (n = 1704 applicable criteria). The field-testing informed the modification of the MAT-CP to optimise its clarity and utility when applied to patients’ clinical documentation. Good inter- and intra-rater reliability (Cohen’s kappa κ = 0.86 and κ = 0.95, respectively) were demonstrated in the application. The preliminary application of the tool during field-testing has highlighted the following for further study: (a) Low adherence (<50%) to 14 standards concerning start of opioid treatment and pain therapy follow-up, clinical assessment of risk of gastro-intestinal adverse effects among patients on non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID), current treatment of breakthrough pain, management of nausea/vomiting; (b) High adherence (>75%) to standards of prescribing of continuous analgesia.


A clinical tool to examine prescribing in cancer pain management has been designed. Face and content validity have been informed by field-testing. The tool requires further study among palliative care specialists as part of the validation required before it can be recommended for clinical use.


Clinical guidelines Clinical assessment tool Cancer pain Norway Pain management Pharmaceutical care Prescribing 



We sincerely thank the cancer patients for their important contribution. To our colleagues Rikke Lind, Trude Giverhaug, Zahra Abdullahi, Sigrid Brækkan and Morten Moe (University of Tromsø, Norway), Susan McKellar and John McAnaw (University of Strathclyde, UK), and Tone Nordøy (University Hospital of North Norway). Thanks to the hospitals’ and pharmacy staffs, especially Inger Dagsvold and Inger Kronen. The project was supported by grants from Erna and Olav Aakre’s Legacy for Cancer Research and the Norwegian Pharmaceutical Association.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gro Dahlseng Håkonsen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Steve Hudson
    • 2
  • Thrina Loennechen
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Pharmacy, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of TromsøTromsøNorway
  2. 2.Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical SciencesUniversity of StrathclydeGlasgowScotland

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