"Despite advances in pain management, recent surveys revealed that a high percentage of hospitalized patients nationwide continue to experience moderate to severe pain after surgery," said Peter H. Pan, M.D., an obstetrical anesthesiologist and the lead researcher. "Our ultimate goal is to learn how to predict which patients are at risk for excessive pain so we can tailor treatment to them."
Pan presented the study results today at the American Society of Anesthesiology Annual Scientific Meeting in Atlanta.
The research was designed to address a dilemma in pain management determining the right amount of pain medication for each patient. If patients are undertreated and have severe pain, it can lead to ongoing, chronic pain. On the other hand, over treatment with pain medicine is associated with bothersome side effects.
The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations has set a goal for hospitals to develop standards for assessing and treating pain so that patients don't experience pain above a "3" on a 10-point scale. Determining the best dose for each patient can be difficult because of individual differences in pain tolerance, according to Pan.
"Requirements for pain medication and the severity of pain experienced by patients can be influenced by sensitivity to pain, levels of anxiety, age, genetics and expectations about pain," he said. "However, few studies have explored whether physical and psychological responses obtained before surgery can be used together to predict the severity of pain and pain medication required after surgery."
For the study, the researchers looked at whether a variety of simple tests could predict post-surgical pai
Contact: Karen Richardson
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center