The relationship between pain and anxiety in medical and surgical contexts is established; less is known about this relationship in obstetric populations. This study evaluated whether there is an association between postpartum pain and anxiety.
In this institutional review board‒approved survey-based prospective cohort study, the General Anxiety Disorder-7 (GAD-7) and American Pain Society-Patient Outcome Questionnaire (APS-POQ) were completed the day of postpartum discharge. The association between moderate-to-severe anxiety and measures of pain control were assessed.
A total of 64 subjects completed discharge surveys. Parturients with moderate-to-severe scores (≥10) on the GAD-7 also had more maximum pain scores (0–10 scale) in the severe range (≥7) in the first (P=.049) and second (P=.010) 24-hour periods after delivery and were more likely to have spent a higher percentage of their time in severe pain within these time frames (P=0.007 and P=0.010, respectively). Similar relationships were observed when classifying anxiety as no anxiety (GAD-7 score <5), mild anxiety (GAD-7 score 5–9), moderate anxiety (GAD-7 score 10–14), and severe anxiety (GAD-7 score ≥15). Parturients with preexisting anxiety did not have higher rates of perceived inadequate pain control. Parturients whose infants had health concerns did not have higher rates of anxiety.
Postpartum pain levels were associated with higher levels of anxiety in the immediate postpartum period. Consideration of the relationship between pain control and anxiety may help optimize patients’ postpartum experience.