Improvements and difficulties in postoperative pain management Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND This review examines postoperative pain (POP) management from the perspectives of healthcare providers, patients, and institutions. It summarizes current thought about POP, including difficulties and recent improvements in the field. METHODS Studies were identified from PubMed, MEDLINE, and the search engine Google Scholar and by hand-searching reference lists from review articles and research papers (1998–2009). The search was limited to articles published in the English language. Given the broad review of POP, a complete review of all the potential articles was not possible. Thus, an inclusion criterion was defined, and we retrieved only those studies that included the term postoperative pain treatment, together with 1 or more of the following terms: adult patients, education, interdisciplinary teams, attitudes, physicians, and nurses. Two hundred twenty studies were retrieved, and 93 studies were sufficiently close to the topic of this review. They were organized according to the following themes: POP management as it relates to healthcare providers, patients, and institutions; changing trends in healthcare education in relation to various POP interventions; and the role of policy makers concerning improvements and challenges in the management of POP. RESULTS Interdisciplinary teams are needed to implement multimodal methods to treat POP in ways that will provide patients with interventions that will improve their ability to cope with the physical and psychosocial aspects of POP. This is hindered by a lack of hospital financial resources, a lack of educational programs, a lack of knowledge regarding diverse pharmacological options, and lingering negative attitudes toward certain treatments, especially opioids. CONCLUSIONS Successful POP management depends on providers' receiving education and information. Policy makers and organizations are called upon to actively intervene by formulating programs and promoting a feedback system, or else POP will remain a neglected issue.

publication date

  • January 1, 2009