Incidence, patient satisfaction, and perceptions of post-surgical pain: results from a US national survey.

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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.





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Gan, Tong J, Ashraf S Habib, Timothy E Miller, William White and Jeffrey L Apfelbaum (2014). Incidence, patient satisfaction, and perceptions of post-surgical pain: results from a US national survey. Curr Med Res Opin, 30(1). pp. 149–160. 10.1185/03007995.2013.860019 Retrieved from

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Ashraf Samir Habib

Professor of Anesthesiology

Ashraf Habib is a Professor of Anesthesiology, Professor in Obstetrics and Gynecology and Chief of the Division of Women’s Anaesthesia at Duke University Medical Center. He received his medical degree from Ain Shams University in Cairo, Egypt. He completed his anesthetic training in the UK, subsequently finished fellowship training in Obstetric Anesthesia at Duke University Medical Center and stayed there as faculty. He has published over 250 peer-reviewed manuscripts, book chapters and editorials. His research interests include enhanced recovery after surgery including cesarean delivery, optimizing labor analgesia and postoperative outcomes such as postoperative pain and postoperative nausea and vomiting, persistent pain after surgery and optimizing hemodynamic management of women undergoing caesarean delivery. Dr. Habib is currently a senior Editor for Anesthesia and Analgesia and is on the Editorial Board of the International Journal of Obstetric Anesthesia and BJA Education. He has also been a member of the expert panel that generated the ASER/SAMBA consensus guidelines for the management of postoperative nausea and vomiting, the Society for Obstetric Anesthesia and Perinatology (SOAP) consensus statement and recommendations for enhanced recovery after cesarean delivery, the SOAP consensus statement for respiratory monitoring after neuraxial morphine administration for caesarean delivery analgesia, and the SASM/SOAP guidelines for the screening, diagnosis and treatment of obstructive sleep apnea during pregnancy. He is currently the Chair of SOAP research Committee and serves on SOAP’s Board of Directors.


Timothy Ellis Miller

Professor of Anesthesiology

Clinical and research interests are Enhanced Recovery and Perioperative Medicine; with particular interests in fluid management, and perioperative optimization of the high-risk non-cardiac surgery patient.

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