The Relationship Between Pain-Related Psychological Factors and Postoperative Opioid Use After Ambulatory Hand Surgery

Published:March 05, 2019DOI:


      Pain-related psychological factors, including pain catastrophizing and dispositional mindfulness, have been shown to influence patient pain levels and outcomes after orthopedic surgery. Less is known about the relationship between these factors and postoperative opioid use after hand surgery. The purpose of this study was to examine the association between preoperative pain catastrophizing and mindfulness and postoperative opioid use in patients undergoing ambulatory hand surgery.


      Patients undergoing ambulatory hand surgery at our institution between May 2017 and January 2018 were prospectively enrolled in an ongoing clinical trial. Patients completed the Pain Catastrophizing Scale (PCS) and Mindfulness Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS) before surgery. Patients completed a pain medication diary for 2 weeks after surgery and were contacted on postoperative days 3, 8, and 15 to review their medication usage and pain levels. Analyses were performed to evaluate the association between PCS, MAAS scores, and postoperative opioid use, average patient reported pain levels, and refill rates.


      A total of 85 patients were included in the analysis. Higher PCS scores (representing more pain catastrophizing) were associated with increased number of opioid pills consumed, higher average pain levels during the first postoperative week, and higher refill rates. Higher MAAS scores (representing more mindfulness) were associated with lower average week-1 pain levels but not significantly associated with opioid use or refill rates.


      Patients demonstrating higher PCSs before surgery used more opioids after surgery after a range of ambulatory hand surgeries. In the setting of the opioid epidemic, hand surgeons should be aware of pain-related psychological factors that can influence postoperative opioid use.

      Type of study/level of evidence

      Prognostic II.

      Key words

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