I am Maggie Thurmond Dorsey. I am an Assistant Professor at University of South Carolina Aiken in the School of Nursing. I have been a faculty member at USCA for over 20 years. It is a wonderful place to work and grow!

For the past years I have taught in the Associate Degree Nursing Program at USCA. That fact will change. The School of Nursing is phasing out the Associate Degree Nursing Program and increasing enrollment in our Baccalaureate Degree in Nursing Program. This is a wonderful opportunity for the citizens of the CSRA.

I teach the first medical-surgical nursing course in the Associate Degree Nursing Program. This course introduces students to the concepts and techniques involved in caring for ill patients in acute care settings.

My lesson for this class will be: The Medical-Surgical Nurse's Response to Culturally Different Patients' PAIN.

Patients experience PAIN when they are ill. This pain may be emotional or physical. Pain according to Lewis, Heitkemper, & Dirksen, 2003 is a "highly complex, subjective, discomforting experience of differing degrees for different people. It is what ever the person experiencing it says that it is, where ever they say that it is; when ever they say that it occurs". This pain is real for each patient and may be expressed differently based on the patient's culture.

How a nurse responds to a patient's PAIN must be appropriate, individual and based on the patient's cultural uniqueness. Culture is more than race and ethnic background. Culture also includes but is not limited to religious preference, age, education, gender, geographic location, previous experiences, values, beliefs, customs, habits, knowledge and family.

Nurses' responsibilities related to pain and culture are:

A. Recognize barriers to pain control:

age(very young)

cognitively impaired

mentally ill

drug addition history


fear of addiction

lack of understanding

B. Be knowledgeable, caring and competent in the delivery of care to all patients using:


patient assessment

clear communication

C. Implement specific pain-related nursing interventions that address the diverse needs of diverse patient groups using:

Pain as 5th vital sign

Documenting pain assessments, implementations and evaluations



Herr, K. (2002). Pain assessment in cognitively impaired older adults. American Journal of Nursing 102(12), 65-68.

Lewis, S. M., Heitkemper, M.M., & Dirksen, S.R. (2003). Medical-surgical nursing:Assessment and management of clinical problems (6th ed.).St.


Purnell,L.D., & Paulanka, B.J.(1998).Transcultural health care:Aculturally competent approach. Philadelphia:F.A.Davis.



Click here to go to My Links Page

Click to go to a website about Pain

Click to go to my Lesson Page

Click to go to USCA

Click to go to Ruth Patrick Science Education Center



http://rpsec.usca.sc.edu//Classwork/731sp2004/Lesson/Dorsey/(February, 2004)

"The views expressed on this page are not necessarily those of the University of South Carolina."