Self-Reported Comfort and Competencies for Pain Among Undergraduate Medical Students at Memorial University


  • William Cecil Ian Janes (Editor, Undergraduate Medical Education)
  • Vernon Curran


pain, pain education, undergraduate medical education, quality assurance


Background: Pain is a unique, multifaceted and poorly understood topic. Research has found prevalent gaps in knowledge regarding pain management in medicine, partially stemming from inadequate coverage in undergraduate medical education. Pain in Memorial University’s curriculum has not been systematically explored and our study sought to examine medical students’ perceptions of pain-related curriculum. Methods: A previously created survey questionnaire for examining Canadian undergraduate medical student perspectives on pain was adapted for use at Memorial University. A web-based survey was administered between April – June 2020 to pre-clerkship and clerkship student cohorts using the Dillman Tailored Design Method. The questionnaire comprised a total of 25 items using Likert scale and visual analog scale (VAS) measures. Results: Forty-seven students (N=47) completed the survey. Respondents reported a median 4 (Interquartile range (IQR) = 6.5) total hours of pain instruction. Median perceived importance of pain management was 85 (IQR = 25.75) and 80 (IQR = 20.25) for pre-clerks and clerks respectively. Prioritization of pain in medical education, was a median 23.5 (IQR = 15) and 27.5 (IQR = 26) by clerk status, consistent with University of Alberta findings suggesting minimal recalled prioritization. Clerks indicated greater comfort with assessing pain (p=0.02), and managing adult pain (p=0.049), while all respondents lacked comfort managing children’s pain (VAS<50mm). Discussion: Undergraduate medical students at Memorial University view pain management as a significant, yet obscured topic in their medical education. While clerks indicated a greater comfort level, a consensus noted a lack of designated hours towards pain.


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How to Cite

Janes, W. C. I., & Curran, V. (2023). Self-Reported Comfort and Competencies for Pain Among Undergraduate Medical Students at Memorial University. Lithos - The Memorial University Medical Journal, 1(1), 6–12. Retrieved from



Original Research