Preoperative predictors of poor acute postoperative pain control: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Academic Article uri icon


  • 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.Systematic review and meta-analysis DATA SOURCES: MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL and PsycINFO were searched through October 2017.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.Two reviewers screened articles, extracted data and assessed study quality. Measures of association for each preoperative predictor were pooled using random effects models.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.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.CRD42017080682.© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2019. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.

publication date

  • April 2019