Incidence, patient satisfaction, and perceptions of post-surgical pain: results from a US national survey

Curr Med Res Opin. 2014 Jan;30(1):149-60. doi: 10.1185/03007995.2013.860019. Epub 2013 Nov 15.


Objective: During the past two decades, professional associations, accrediting bodies, and payors have made post-surgical pain treatment a high priority. In light of the disappointing findings in previous surveys, a survey was conducted to assess patient perceptions and characterize patient experiences/levels of satisfaction with post-surgical pain management.

Research design and methods: Survey included a random sample of US adults who had undergone surgery within 5 years from the survey date. Participants were asked about their concerns before surgery, severity of perioperative pain, pain treatments, perceptions about post-surgical pain and pain medications, and satisfaction with treatments they received.

Results: Of the 300 participants, ∼86% experienced pain after surgery; of these, 75% had moderate/extreme pain during the immediate post-surgical period, with 74% still experiencing these levels of pain after discharge. Post-surgical pain was the most prominent pre-surgical patient concern, and nearly half reported they had high/very high anxiety levels about pain before surgery. Approximately 88% received analgesic medications to manage pain; of these, 80% experienced adverse effects and 39% reported moderate/severe pain even after receiving their first dose.

Study limitations: Key study limitations include the relatively small population size, potential for recall bias associated with the 14-month average time delay from surgery date to survey date, and the inability to account for influences of type of surgery and intraoperative anesthetic/analgesic use on survey results.

Conclusions: Despite heightened awareness and clinical advancements in pain management, there has been little improvement in post-surgical analgesia as measured by this survey of post-surgical patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Analgesia
  • Analgesics / therapeutic use*
  • Anxiety
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Management
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pain, Postoperative / drug therapy*
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Surgical Procedures, Operative / adverse effects*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*
  • United States
  • Young Adult


  • Analgesics