Empirical studies show conflicting findings about the relationship between pain relief and patient satisfaction. To address this research gap, this study examines the differential effects of pain relief on patient satisfaction based on patients’ perceptions about pain management.
Cross-sectional survey data were collected from 178 adults with self-reported chronic noncancer pain (i.e., pain that typically lasts >12 weeks that is not due to cancer). Participants rated their satisfaction with pain care, pain relief, and perceptions about participation in their treatment decisions and confidence in their physicians. Multiple linear regression models were used to examine whether patients’ perceptions moderated the effects of pain on patient satisfaction. All models were adjusted for age, education, and frequency of chronic pain. Based on the preliminary analyses, separate models were performed for participants who reported low (median or lower) and high (greater than median) pain relief.
On average, patients reported moderate patient satisfaction with their pain care (score of 5.54 out of 10, with a higher score indicating greater patient satisfaction). Among patients who reported low pain relief, the level of pain relief (P < 0.001) and confidence in their physicians (P = 0.031) were positively associated with satisfaction after adjusting for other covariates and control variables. Among patients who reported high pain relief, the level of pain relief (P = 0.002) positively predicted satisfaction after adjusting for other covariates and control variables. Patients’ confidence in their physicians positively moderated the effects of pain relief on satisfaction among patients who reported low pain relief (P = 0.006), but not among patients who reported high pain relief (P = 0.275).
Interventions to improve patients’ confidence in their physician’s pain management may enhance the effects of pain relief on patient satisfaction, particularly among patients who experience low levels of pain alleviation during their pain treatment.