Preemptive and Preventive Pain Psychoeducation and Its Potential Application as a Multimodal Perioperative Pain Control Option: A Systematic Review

Anesth Analg. 2020 Mar;130(3):559-573. doi: 10.1213/ANE.0000000000004319.


The common treatment for postoperative pain is prescription opioids. Yet, these drugs have limited effect in preventing chronic pain from surgical intervention and have in part contributed to the opioid epidemic. Recently, preemptive analgesia and multimodal analgesia have been proposed with widely gained acceptance in addressing the pain issues. However, both analgesic approaches have been focused on pharmacological means while completely neglecting the psychological aspect. To address this epidemic, we have conducted a systematic review of preoperative educational methods to explore its application as both a preemptive and a preventive psychological approach to decrease postsurgical pain and improve outcome. Preemptive psychoeducation occurs before surgery and would include information about regional or neuraxial analgesia, while preventive psychoeducation occurs throughout the perioperative period. The content and presentation of preemptive psychoeducation can help patients form accurate expectations and address their concerns of surgical outcome, leading to a significant decrease in patients' anxiety levels. By addressing the psychological needs of patients through preoperative education, one can decrease postoperative recovery time and postsurgical acute pain. Reduced postsurgical acute pain results in fewer opioid prescriptions, which theoretically lowers the patient's risk of developing chronic postsurgical pain (CPSP), and potentially offers a novel concept using preemptive pain psychoeducation as a part of multimodal pain management solution to the opioid epidemic.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Pain / epidemiology
  • Acute Pain / physiopathology
  • Acute Pain / prevention & control*
  • Acute Pain / psychology
  • Analgesics, Opioid / adverse effects
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / prevention & control
  • Pain Management* / adverse effects
  • Pain, Postoperative / epidemiology
  • Pain, Postoperative / physiopathology
  • Pain, Postoperative / prevention & control*
  • Pain, Postoperative / psychology
  • Patient Education as Topic*
  • Perioperative Care* / adverse effects
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Analgesics, Opioid