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.