Aims: The purpose of this study was (1) to explore postoperative pain experience among Chinese thoracotomy patients during hospitalisation; (2) to identify patient-related barriers to pain management; and (3) to explore how these barriers were related to patients' pain experience.
Background: Major thoracotomy causes severe pain and extreme stress for patients. Unrelieved postoperative pain leads to high risks of postoperative complications and chronic post-thoracotomy pain syndrome, compromising the quality of life for those patients.
Design: Cross-sectional design.
Methods: A tertiary general hospital in mainland China was selected for this study. A total of 94 patients undergoing scheduled major thoracotomy operations participated in the study. All patients completed Brief Pain Inventory-Chinese version, the Barrier Questionnaire-Taiwan Form Surgical version and a demographic questionnaire.
Results: Patients suffered moderate to severe pain and experienced extremely high interferences with daily activities after major thoracotomy operation. Patients reported the four highest barrier scores in the subscale of Barrier Questionnaire-Taiwan Form Surgical version were fear of tolerance, inhibition of wound healing, time intervals and distracting the physician from treating the disease. Patient's demographic data had no significant impact on their concerns about communicating pain and using of analgesics with exception of the subscale 'fatalism' of the Barrier Questionnaire-Taiwan Form Surgical version in patients with higher education levels or patients with 'non-farmer' occupation. However, there were no significant correlations indicated either between Barrier Questionnaire-Taiwan Form Surgical version score and pain severity or pain interference.
Conclusions: Patients were underexposure of pain treatment after thoracotomy operation in the study, while patients' concerns about reporting pain and using analgesics had minimal impacts on their pain experience.
Relevance to clinical practice: Education approach for patients is inadequate to improve the status of unrelieved postoperative pain. Appropriate pain management regime together with attentive nursing care should be provided to achieve better pain relief for Chinese patients.
© 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.