A medical–sociological perspective on doctor–patient contact and pre–perceived pain of surgery
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As a therapist within the multi-disciplinary setting, one is confronted with a wide array of pathology and diagnoses. Care is taken to optimize treatment outcomes and overall return of function to every patient admitted to the various rehabilitation facilities. Treatment is often standardized to ensure quality care benchmarked against outcome parameters. The aforementioned is also true for medical practitioners, pharmacists and other auxiliary service providers. Research is aimed at improving quality of care, finding and establishing the best practises through all hospitals and care facilities. Medical care has undergone a transformation over the past few decades with a strong emphasis being placed on protocols and procedures. Through applying standardized care, protocols and procedures, the researcher have come to realize that certain denominators within patient care have no prediction or outcome control. After more than a decade of treating patients in various rehabilitation settings the researcher have come to realize that one complaint exists with each and every patient under my care – pain. This was even more evident within the group of joint replacement patients. No two patients presented with the exact same pain profile or pain reports despite various commonalities such as anthropometric data (age, gender, length, mass), surgical procedure, attending physician, care facility, pathway exposure, diagnosis, radiographic findings and pharmaceutical intervention. If all the obvious factors were identical – what accounted for the different pain reports? This question is at the heart of the study – why do pain reports differ in the presence of so many similarities between patients? It soon became apparent that pain is recognized in the organic form. Organic pain can be measured and is expected with injury, illness or surgical intervention. The entire multi-disciplinary team is aware of organic pain and ready to intervene with medication, surgery and a pathway of care. All vigorously record organic pain and adapt treatment according to the pain levels as organic pain is real pain: real pain existing through exposure to real surgical intervention. Still the question remained: if all the factors prior to surgery, during surgery and after surgery were the same, why are patients experiencing and reporting very different pain levels? This question was the catalyst for the research and lead to keen focus during patient interviews. Every patient receiving an educational session prior to surgery had very vivid ideas about the pain they will experience post-operatively. The majority of patients formed pre-conceived notions about pain prior to undergoing surgery. They presented with a clear pain rating of what they expected to feel post-operatively. The pre-conceived pain rating was constructed in almost all the cases after some form of information obtained during consultation with their surgeon or a member of the multidisciplinary team. This pain notion existed as a tangible and measurable rating in the client’s mind prior to undergoing the knee replacement surgery. In select cases perceived pain was constructed as a result of information obtained from family or friends that underwent the same procedure while other clients constructed perceived pain due to a lack of information on the proposed surgery. It became evident that education or lack thereof on surgical interventions played a primary role in the construct of perceived pain. Patients were entering theatres for procedures and already experienced a form of perceived pain. If pain could be constructed prior to experiencing surgical intervention – can perceived pain then translate into actual organic pain and account for the variable pain reports post surgery? Against this backdrop, research was directed at understanding perceived pain and the factors that aid the construction of perceived pain. As education was found to be at the heart of every pain construct, the doctor-patient consultation was evaluated as a core component to ascertain the impact this relationship has on perceived pain. Measurement of perceived pain was also performed to conclude on the impact of this pain form on organic pain. The study is aimed at addressing the variant pain reports that no pathway or procedure can predict and provide for. It is an attempt to validate pain as constructed by the patient that impacts on their post-surgical pain ratings and behaviour. This research might contribute towards existing knowledge and understanding of the influence of doctor-patient interaction as well as the significance of this interaction on pain. As only scant research on perception of pain has been undertaken this research can prove insightful for further studies or as supplement to existing views and opinions. It can also serve as a foundation in developing practices that will manage pain by enhancing doctor-patient interaction in the health setting.
- Health Sciences