The Effect of Standardized Perioperative Patient Education on Opioid Use After Minor Soft Tissue Procedures Distal to the Wrist

J Hand Surg Am. 2022 Jun;47(6):580.e1-580.e9. doi: 10.1016/j.jhsa.2021.06.009. Epub 2021 Jul 29.


Purpose: Several studies have explored opioid consumption and opioid prescriber education for upper extremity procedures; however, less literature has focused on patient-centered interventions and their impact on opioid consumption after surgery. The purpose of this study was to create a standardized perioperative patient education program regarding postoperative pain management after hand surgery and to determine if it could reduce opioid use after hand surgery.

Methods: Patients scheduled to undergo elective outpatient hand surgery comprising minor soft tissue procedures at and distal to the wrist were randomized to receive pain management education or standard care. Before the surgery, all patients viewed a webinar with instructions for participation, whereas the education group received an additional 10 minutes of education on postoperative pain management and a pain management reference card for review after the surgery. All patients completed a postoperative daily log documenting the number of opioids consumed, other pain management modalities used, and pain scores. The primary outcome of the number of opioid pills consumed by the patients was compared between the groups. We constructed a linear regression model to determine the risk factors for postoperative opioid use after surgery.

Results: One hundred seventy-four patients completed the study (n = 90 education group; n = 84 standard care group). Patients in the education group took significantly fewer opioid pills (median = 0, range 0-13) than those in the standard care group (median = 0.5, range 0-40). A linear regression model showed that average week-1 pain (B = 0.93; 95% confidence interval, 0.56-1.3) and the number of pills prescribed (B = 0.12; 95% confidence interval, 0.017-0.22) were predictive of greater opioid use.

Conclusions: Perioperative patient education significantly reduced postoperative opioid use following a minor soft tissue hand surgery, with greater than 70% of the patients taking no opioids.

Type of study/level of evidence: Prognostic II.

Keywords: Education; hand; opioid; pain; surgery.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid* / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Opioid-Related Disorders*
  • Pain, Postoperative / drug therapy
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Upper Extremity / surgery
  • Wrist


  • Analgesics, Opioid