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Morphine: a comfort measure for the dying or pain control for the living?
Date:12/10/2007

ts was that morphine suggested imminent death (and also possibly hastened death) and that once commenced would mean that they would not be able to function normally. However, morphine if used properly, can actually promote quality of life by allowing patients with pain to function better.

Dr Reid and her colleagues say that the role of the medical professional is crucial in helping to change patients beliefs and attitudes towards morphine. They write that the studys findings highlight the importance of the professional in cancer pain management, but also how beliefs about opioids that are communicated to the relatives of the dying may have implications for the pain relief of others in the future.

Dr Reid said: During the interviews, patients told us that that when a professional had been confident about opioids, then this had made them feel more able to accept the possibility of taking opioid medication. However, the main source of their fears was either personal experience or stories told by others. If more patients had good experiences with morphine (and other opioids) then the stories will be more reassuring.

She continued: Our interviews suggested to us that the patients detected professional ambivalence towards morphine and so this heightened their fears. They also told us that professionals had worried, incorrectly, about hastening death by using morphine and had communicated this fear to relatives. We are getting better at educating medical students about opioids and pain management, but another study we are involved in at the moment suggests that there are definitely educational needs for professionals. I think the role of palliative care teams is crucial here, since we can educate both professionals and patients.

In an accompanying editorial [2], Dr Marco Maltoni, head of the Palliative Care Unit, Forl Local Health Authority and Istituto Scientifico Romagnolo per lo Studio e la Cura dei Tumori, Meldola, Italy, agrees. He
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Contact: Emma Mason
wordmason@mac.com
44-077-112-96986
European Society for Medical Oncology
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2 3 4

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