Preoperative predictors of poor acute postoperative pain control: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Michael M.H. Yang, Rebecca L. Hartley, Alexander A. Leung, Paul E. Ronksley, Nathalie Jetté, Steven Casha, Jay Riva-Cambrin

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163 Scopus citations


Objectives Inadequate postoperative pain control is common and is associated with poor clinical outcomes. This study aimed to identify preoperative predictors of poor postoperative pain control in adults undergoing inpatient surgery. Design Systematic review and meta-analysis Data sources MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL and PsycINFO were searched through October 2017. Eligibility criteria Studies in any language were included if they evaluated postoperative pain using a validated instrument in adults (≥18 years) and reported a measure of association between poor postoperative pain control (defined by study authors) and at least one preoperative predictor during the hospital stay. Data extraction and synthesis Two reviewers screened articles, extracted data and assessed study quality. Measures of association for each preoperative predictor were pooled using random effects models. Results Thirty-three studies representing 53 362 patients were included in this review. Significant preoperative predictors of poor postoperative pain control included younger age (OR 1.18 [95% CI 1.05 to 1.32], number of studies, n=14), female sex (OR 1.29 [95% CI 1.17 to 1.43], n=20), smoking (OR 1.33 [95% CI 1.09 to 1.61], n=9), history of depressive symptoms (OR 1.71 [95% CI 1.32 to 2.22], n=8), history of anxiety symptoms (OR 1.22 [95% CI 1.09 to 1.36], n=10), sleep difficulties (OR 2.32 [95% CI 1.46 to 3.69], n=2), higher body mass index (OR 1.02 [95% CI 1.01 to 1.03], n=2), presence of preoperative pain (OR 1.21 [95% CI 1.10 to 1.32], n=13) and use of preoperative analgesia (OR 1.54 [95% CI 1.18 to 2.03], n=6). Pain catastrophising, American Society of Anesthesiologists status, chronic pain, marital status, socioeconomic status, education, surgical history, preoperative pressure pain tolerance and orthopaedic surgery (vs abdominal surgery) were not associated with increased odds of poor pain control. Study quality was generally high, although appropriate blinding of predictor during outcome ascertainment was often limited. Conclusions Nine predictors of poor postoperative pain control were identified. These should be recognised as potentially important factors when developing discipline-specific clinical care pathways to improve pain outcomes and to guide future surgical pain research. PROSPERO registration number CRD42017080682.

Original languageEnglish
Article number025091
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2019


  • meta-analysis
  • pain
  • pain scales
  • postoperative pain
  • preoperative predictors
  • surgery


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