Patient attitudes and beliefs regarding pain medication after cardiac surgery: barriers to adequate pain management

Pain Manag Nurs. 2014 Sep;15(3):574-9. doi: 10.1016/j.pmn.2013.01.003. Epub 2013 Feb 26.


Several studies have outlined the impact of patient's beliefs on their level of pain relief after surgery and have underlined that misconceptions are barriers to effective pain relief. The aim of this survey was to evaluate the beliefs of the patients to help create a specifically adapted pain education program. After ethics approval, all patients scheduled to undergo cardiac surgery of any kind were approached and asked to complete a voluntary, non-nominative questionnaire that included the Barriers Questionnaire and the Screening Tool for Addiction Risk (STAR) Questionnaire. All completed questionnaires were collected from the charts every evening or the morning before surgery. Of 564 patients scheduled for surgery, 379 patients (67.5%) returned questionnaires. The average age was 60.3 years, and 66.0% were male. Results of the Barriers Questionnaire showed that 31% of patients were in strong agreement that "it is easy to become addicted to pain medication," 20% agreed that "good patients do not speak of their pain," and 36% believe that "pain medication should be saved in case pain worsens." Little or no gains have been made in decreasing misconceptions related to the treatment of pain. This study underlines the considerable need for and absolute necessity to provide pain education to patients undergoing cardiac surgery.

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics / therapeutic use*
  • Cardiac Surgical Procedures
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pain, Postoperative / drug therapy*
  • Pain, Postoperative / psychology
  • Patient Compliance / psychology*
  • Patient Compliance / statistics & numerical data
  • Patient Satisfaction / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Analgesics