A prospective analysis of pain experience, beliefs and attitudes, and pain management of a cohort of Danish surgical patients

Eur J Pain. 2012 Feb;16(2):278-88. doi: 10.1016/j.ejpain.2011.06.004.


Background: Adequacy of pain management is a process indicator of health care quality with consequences for patient outcomes and satisfaction. The reported incidence of moderate to severe postoperative pain worldwide is between 20% and 80%.

Objectives: The purpose was to assess the quality of pain management in a cohort of Danish postoperative patients by examining their pain experience, beliefs about pain and pain treatment, and relationships between pain intensity, its effect on function, and pharmacological pain management.

Methods: The American Pain Society's Patient Outcome Questionnaire was administered to a consecutive cohort of Danish patients who had undergone gastrointestinal, gynaecological, orthopaedic or urological surgery within 24 and 72 h of surgery.

Results: Findings indicated uncontrolled pain in 45.5% of patients. These patients reported moderate to severe intensity average pain in the previous 24 h, however, 88.4% of the cohort overall stated they were satisfied or very satisfied with pain treatment. Patients who experienced severe pain only received 50% of available strong opioids, 73.3% of available weak opioids, 100% of available non-steroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) and paracetamol. Further, analgesics prescribed to be administered at fixed intervals were administered 99% of the time; in contrast, all Pro Re Nata (PRN) orders irrespective of analgesic categories, were administered only 25% of the time.

Conclusions: A number of patients experienced significant pain postoperatively. Although multi-modal analgesics were available, analgesic administration practices did not consistently reflect management responsive to patient needs. Despite this, patients were largely satisfied with the care received suggesting the need for further research to understand how patients perceive the efficacy of pain management.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Analgesics / therapeutic use*
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Comorbidity
  • Denmark / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain, Postoperative* / drug therapy
  • Pain, Postoperative* / epidemiology
  • Pain, Postoperative* / psychology
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Young Adult


  • Analgesics