Patients’ Experiences of Pain Have an Impact on Their Pain Management Attitudes and Strategies

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Objectives: Postoperative pain remains undermanaged in orthopedic surgery. To identify areas of improvement for future structural changes in pain management, patients’ experiences of pain and pain management when undergoing elective lumbar spine surgery were explored, using a qualitative method with focus group interviews. Setting: The study setting was an orthopedic spine surgery department at a University Hospital in Sweden. Methods: This study consisted of two focus group interviews with patients (n = 6/group, a total of 12 patients) who had undergone lumbar spine surgery 4 days to 5 weeks prior to the focus group interviews. The interviews were semi-structured, and the analysis was performed using qualitative content analysis. Results: The main result of this study revealed that patients’ experiences of pain influenced their attitudes and strategies for pain management. Three main categories emerged from the focus group interviews: I. Coping with pain while waiting for surgery; II. Using different pain-relieving strategies after surgery; and III. How organizational structures influence the pain experiences. Conclusions: In conclusion the results from this study acknowledge that postoperative pain experiences and coping strategies after spine surgery are highly diverse and individual. This calls for staff having a more personalized approach to pain management in order to optimize pain relief, which was stressed as highly valued by the patients.

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