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Niger Med J. 2014 Mar;55(2):106-10. doi: 10.4103/0300-1652.129635.

A survey on doctors' knowledge and attitude of treating chronic pain in three tertiary hospitals in Nigeria.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, Ilorin, Kwara State, Nigeria.
  • 2Department of Medicine, Usmanu Dan Fodio University Teaching Hospital, Sokoto, Sokoto State, Nigeria.



Chronic non-cancer pain (CP) is one of the most common complaints that bring patients to the hospital. When pain persists, people move from doctor-to-doctor seeking for help, thus the burden of CP is huge. This study, therefore was aimed at assessing attitude and knowledge of doctors in three teaching hospitals in Nigeria to CP.


Structured questionnaire was administered to doctors practicing at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, Usmanu Danfodio University Teaching Hospital and University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital. Responses were graded on maximum scale of five.


Of the 410 doctors who participated in study, 79.7% were men. Their years of practice varied from 1 year to 20 years (mean SD = 4.5 ± 1.7 years). Close to 58% of participants were resident doctors, 36.4% medical officers and 8.6% consultants. Only 23.3% of participants had basic medical or postgraduate training on pain management. The physicians' mean goal of treating CP in patients was 3.7 ± 1.1, compared to 4.0 ± 1.1 in close relative and 4.1 ± 0.9 for doctors'-self pain. Only 9.5% of doctors use opioids for CP compared to 73% who use Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Few doctors (23%) use ≥2 drugs to treat CP. Doctors were indifferent on the appropriateness of patients with CP to request for additional analgesics (mean score = 3.1 + 1.4). Doctors' self-rated knowledge of CP was 1.8 ± 0.7 compared to 4.1 ± 0.9 for acute and 0.8 ± 0.3 for cancer pains (P = 0. 003).


Incorporation of pain management into continuing medical education could help improve observed deficiency in doctors' knowledge of pain treatment which resulted from lack of basic medical education on pain.


Attitude; chronic pain; doctors; knowledge; treatment

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