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Pain Manag Nurs. 2009 Mar;10(1):22-31. doi: 10.1016/j.pmn.2008.08.006.

What do adult surgical patients really want to know about pain and pain management?

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University Health Network, Toronto Western Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


This study investigates the informational content about postoperative pain and pain management that patients identify as being most important. In a descriptive quantitative study design, a convenience sample of 150 general day surgery patients were surveyed by telephone within 72 h after discharge from a hospital day surgery unit. The survey consisted of 19 items rated on a 10-point Likert scale of importance. Composite mean scores were calculated for each item. Chi-squared analyses were used to probe for intergroup differences. Mean information item importance scores ranged from 5.9/10 to 8.7/10. The top three were discharge-related items. The majority of the lowest ratings were for general pain management information items. "If I can get addicted to drugs used to treat my pain" was rated the fourth lowest in importance. "I would have liked to have known other ways of dealing with my pain in addition to pain medicine" was significantly associated with duration of pain preoperatively (chi-squared = 0.010). None of the other information items were associated with preoperative pain duration. All of the pain and pain management survey information items were of moderate (5-6/10) to high (>7/10) importance to the general day surgery patient participants. Of prime importance was information related to what to do about pain and side effects after discharge. Because patients place high importance on information about the pain experience, the pain management plan after discharge, and side effect management, health care professionals need to focus their pain management counseling in these areas.

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