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Language and gender barriers to pain control after general surgery

ANZ J Surg. 2022 Nov 22. doi: 10.1111/ans.18164. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: Effective pain control is crucial to postoperative recovery and is affected by biopsychosocial factors. This study aimed to evaluate how non-English primary language, gender, and marital status may influence pain, length of stay, and mortality after general surgery.

METHODS: Consecutive general surgical admissions over a two-year period to two tertiary hospitals were included. Multivariable logistic regression analyses were conducted to evaluate the relationship between non-English primary language, gender, and marital status, and pain scores, length of stay, and in-hospital mortality. Explanatory variables that were controlled for in these analyses included age, birth country, whether a religion was specified, socioeconomic percentile, Charlson comorbidity index, and time of admission.

RESULTS: A total of 12 846 general surgery patients were included. When controlling for the aforementioned variables, including having a specified religion and being born overseas, having a non-English primary language was significantly independently associated with lower pain scores (odds ratio 0.61, 95% CI 0.52-0.71, P < 0.001). Female gender was independently associated with an increased likelihood of higher pain scores (odds ratio 1.09, 95% CI 1.01-1.18, P = 0.024) and a lower likelihood of prolonged length of stay (odds ratio 0.88, 95% CI 0. 80-0.95, P = 0.002). None of the evaluated variables had a statistically significant association with in-hospital mortality.

CONCLUSIONS: This study is the first to characterize an association between general surgery patients with a non-English primary language and lower levels of postoperative pain. It was also found that female gender was associated with higher postoperative pain but lower length of hospital stay.

PMID:36412097 | DOI:10.1111/ans.18164

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