Prevalence and risk factors for acute postoperative pain after elective orthopedic and general surgery at a tertiary referral hospital in Tanzania

Ansbert S. Ndebea*, Sandra A.S. van den Heuvel, Rogers Temu, Mwemezi M. Kaino, Regina L.M. van Boekel, Monique A.H. Steegers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: In Africa, postoperative pain management is still a major problem with a prevalence of postoperative pain in up to 95.2% of the patients. There are little data on the prevalence and potential risk factors for postoperative pain in Tanzania. Therefore, we aimed to investigate these at Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre in Northern Tanzania. Our goal is to optimize pain management. Methods: A prospective cohort study was carried out from December 2016 to April 2017. Patients ≥18 years admitted for elective general or orthopedic surgery were included in the study. Demographic data were collected during a pre-operative visit, and pain was assessed with a numerical rating scale (NRS 0–10) at 4, 24, 36 and 48 hours postoperatively. A NRS >3 was considered as moderate to severe postoperative pain. Potential risk factors for postoperative pain were identified using univariate and multivariable binary logistic regression analyses. Results: A total of 281 patients were included in the study. The prevalence of postoperative pain was 61%, 73%, 67% and 58% at 4, 24, 36 and 48 hours after surgery, respectively. Pethidine was the most frequently prescribed analgesic for postoperative pain management (85.1%) in the first 24 hours postoperatively; only 1% received paracetamol or diclofenac, and 13% received tramadol. In the multivariable model, general anesthesia and intra-opera-tive analgesia (OR = 3.70, 95% CI 1.70–8.04) were significant risk factors for postoperative pain. Conclusion: Pain is still inadequately managed at Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre leading to a high prevalence (73% on the first day after surgery) of reported postoperative pain in this study. It reflects the need for adequate postoperative analgesia, especially in low-and middle-income countries. Further research identifying risk factors in larger cohorts can be performed if adequate analgesia is given.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3005-3011
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Pain Research
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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