Unmanaged pain has been found to predict delayed return to work, psychologic distress, and chronic pain and disability in patients with traumatic injury. However, little is known about the pain experience during hospitalization. The primary objective of this study was to determine pain intensity, pain interference, and satisfaction with pain treatment in orthopedic trauma patients at hospital discharge. A secondary objective was to examine whether patient self-efficacy and psychologic distress were associated with pain and satisfaction.
Two hundred thirty-three orthopedic trauma patients were enrolled and completed a discharge assessment at a Level I trauma center. Pain was measured with the Brief Pain Inventory and satisfaction with the American Pain Society Patient Outcome Questionnaire.
Ninety-seven percent of patients reported pain at the time of hospital discharge, with 59% and 73% reporting moderate to severe pain intensity and interference, respectively. Overall, 86% of patients were satisfied with pain treatment. Multivariable regression analyses demonstrated that decreased self-efficacy was associated with moderate to severe pain intensity, increased depression was associated with moderate to severe pain intensity and interference, and increased pain intensity was associated with decreased satisfaction (p < 0.05).
Results suggest that orthopedic trauma patients have a significant pain burden but are satisfied with pain treatment during the hospital stay. Efforts are needed to improve pain assessment and management and findings imply that addressing self-efficacy and depressive symptoms may decrease pain and increase satisfaction at hospital discharge. Brief educational interventions that incorporate pain coping skills and self-management techniques may be a feasible approach to improving self-efficacy in the acute care setting. Additional recommendations include routine hospital screening for depression and increased communication between surgeons and mental health providers to identify patients at high risk for unmanaged pain and facilitate provision of early mental health services.
LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: