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Pain Research and Management
Volume 2016 (2016), Article ID 9580626, 9 pages
Research Article

Treating without Seeing: Pain Management Practice in a Thai Context

1School of Nursing, Rangsit University, Pathum Thani, Thailand
2Department of Nursing and Care, The Swedish Red Cross University College, Stockholm, Sweden

Received 1 March 2016; Revised 6 November 2016; Accepted 9 November 2016

Academic Editor: Phillip J. Wiffen

Copyright © 2016 Manaporn Chatchumni et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Pain management is a core nursing function, and it plays a key role in postoperative care. It is important to understand the cultural context of nursing practices and how this affects effective pain management. The aim of this study was to describe the professional and cultural framework within which pain management is practiced on a Thai surgical ward. Spradley’s ethnographic methodology was used. Data were collected through 98.5 hours of field observations and interviews at a surgical ward in Thailand. Three themes were constructed that describe the way Thai nurses practiced pain management: (i) complex communications system to address pain and to respond to it, (ii) the essence of Thai-ness, and (iii) a passive approach to pain management. The results indicate that, in the response to discomfort and pain, better pain management will result if there is a shift from functional to patient-centered care. The nursing culture needs to be further researched and discussed, in order to set priorities in line with the goals of national and international organizations for improving postoperative care and promoting patient comfort.