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Br J Anaesth. 2013 May;110(5):780-7. doi: 10.1093/bja/aes517. Epub 2013 Feb 5.

Pain vs comfort scores after Caesarean section: a randomized trial.

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University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia.



The use of negative words, such as 'sting' and 'pain', can increase patient pain and anxiety. We aimed to determine how pain scores compare with comfort scores and how the technique of pain assessment affects patient perceptions and experiences after operation.


After Caesarean section, 300 women were randomized before post-anaesthesia review. Group P women were asked to rate their pain on a 0-10-point verbal numerical rating scale (VNRS), where '0' was 'no pain' and '10' was 'worst pain imaginable'. Group C women were asked to rate comfort on a 0-10-point VNRS, where '0' was 'no comfort' and '10' was 'most comfortable'. All women were asked whether the Caesarean wound was bothersome, unpleasant, associated with tissue damage, and whether additional analgesia was desired.


The median (inter-quartile range) VNRS pain scores was higher than inverted comfort scores at rest, 2 (1, 4) vs 2 (0.5, 3), P=0.001, and movement, 6 (4, 7) vs 4 (3, 5), P<0.001. Group P women were more likely to be bothered by their Caesarean section, had greater VNRS 'Bother' scores, 4 (2, 6) vs 1 (0, 3), P<0.001, perceived postoperative sensations as 'unpleasant' [relative risk (RR) 3.05, 95% confidence interval (CI) 2.20, 4.23], P<0.001, and related to tissue damage rather than healing and recovery (RR 2.03, 95% CI 1.30, 3.18), P=0.001. Group P women were also more likely to request additional analgesia (RR 4.33, 95% CI 1.84, 10.22), P<0.001.


Asking about pain and pain scores after Caesarean section adversely affects patient reports of their postoperative experiences.

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