To assess the postoperative pain and pain medication experiences of Canadians.
Three hundred and five general population subjects from across Canada who had surgery in the previous three years were retrospectively questioned regarding pain experiences in the surgical facility and at home, pain medication efficacy and pain medication satisfaction.
While in the surgical facility, pain was experienced by 68% of patients who expected overnight admission ("inpatients") and 49% of patients who expected same-day discharge ("outpatients"). Overall, 47% of inpatients and 15% of outpatients reported that their highest experience of pain was severe or extreme; 25% of inpatients and 9% of outpatients reported that their average pain was severe or extreme. In the two weeks post-discharge, 79% and 74% respectively of inpatients and outpatients experienced pain. Severe or extreme pain occurred at home in 25% of inpatients and 28% of outpatients; average pain was severe or extreme for 9% of inpatients and 12% of outpatients. Complete or a lot of pain relief was experienced by 54% to 72% patients who received pain medication; higher rates of pain medication satisfaction were reported than rates of pain relief from pain medication.
Severe or extreme pain was experienced by many surgical patients. Improvements could be made to patients' postsurgical pain experience in Canada, both in the surgical facility and subsequent to discharge.