Children who still have moderate to severe post-operative pain 1 month after a surgical procedure are at risk for deterioration of their health-related quality of life (HRQOL), according to a study published in the Journal of Pain.
Severe post-surgical pain is common and can govern the stress response after surgery, which can result in delayed recovery with significant post-surgical pain that may progress to chronic pain.
Researchers at Seattle Children’s Hospital, Seattle, Washington, collected data from the parents of 915 children admitted to the hospital for surgery from January 2012 to August 2013. They measured HRQOL and pain in a large heterogeneous paediatric inpatient population from a pre-surgery baseline to 1 month follow-up at home. They also examined predictors of clinically significant changes in HRQOL in the children a month following surgery.
This is the first study to examine pain and HRQOL outcomes in a broad population of children undergoing a wide range of inpatient surgeries.
Results showed that 2% of the children had a clinically significant deterioration in HRQOL from baseline to 1 month after surgery. Factors associated with HRQOL deterioration included higher child age and moderate to severe pain at 1-month follow-up.
“Our findings demonstrate that pain affected both physical and psychosocial health,” said lead author Jennifer A. Rabbitts, MD, Seattle Children’s Hospital. “Unfortunately, over the past several decades, children’s rates of pain in the early post-operative period after inpatient surgery have not changed. Measurement of broad health outcomes is essential when assessing paediatric surgical populations and should be considered in future research.”