Date of Paper/Work


Type of Paper/Work

Doctor of Nursing Practice Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Practice



First Advisor

Nanette Hoerr


Doctor of Nursing Practice


Purpose: The cost of pain to society is high, not only in dollars, but in physical and emotional suffering. Undertreated pain in the older population can lead to functional impairments and a diminished quality of life. One of the greatest health care challenges today is meeting the growing and increasingly diverse needs of an aging population. Providing effective pain management to seniors is the right thing to do.

Problem: A transitional care unit (TCU) serving post-surgical patients described several problems related to their pain management program. In this facility, pain scores exceed state and national averages and staff believe limited pain management options contribute to these higher rates.

Approach: A Clinical Scholar team of university faculty and students, and staff members from the facility developed a quality improvement project to examine the feasibility of integrating complementary therapies into clinical practice. The interprofessional team made incremental changes throughout the implementation phase of the project through a rapid cycle change process.

Results: The team integrated three relevant, evidence-based complementary therapies consisting of guided imagery, music, and progressive muscle relaxation into staff workflow with minimal interruption. Staff expressed satisfaction with an expanded menu of pain management options and reported several benefits, including increased time spent with patients and the provision of enhanced care. Patients reported benefits beyond pain relief, including relaxation, stress reduction, and improved sleep.

Conclusion: Patients and staff accept the complementary therapies as meaningful ways to facilitate pain control.