Women report more severe postoperative complaints than men (e.g. nausea and pain) and expectations of complaints prior to surgery influence the postoperative complaints. Therefore, the aim of this study was to explore if gender differences in complaint expectation can account for differences in postoperative complaints. A further objective was to investigate the effective load of complaints and to look for gender differences. In total 281 patients (128 men and 153 women) were included in the study and all patients underwent elective general surgery. Patients were asked for symptom expectations and symptom experiences prior to surgery. After surgery they answered the Anesthesiological Questionnaire (ANP) a validated self-rating method for the assessment of postoperative symptoms and complaints. The symptoms referred to in the questionnaire included sensation of cold, sensation of heat, nausea and vomiting, tickly throat, croakiness, dry mouth and thirst, difficulty in breathing, sore throat, pain in the area of surgery, pain in the area of infusion, muscle pain, back pain, headache, difficulties in urination, difficulty in awakening and feeling of somatic discomfort. In addition patients rated the affective load of the postoperative complaints. In previous surgery women reported experiencing more postoperative somatic complaints than men. Sex-related differences were significant (p < 0.05) for sensation of cold, nausea and vomiting, tickly throat, croakiness, sore throat, pain and the feeling of somatic discomfort. Likewise, women expected more intensive postoperative complaints following the forthcoming operation. After surgery women reported significantly more severe complaints in negative symptoms of the ANP (e.g. nausea and vomiting, pain and somatic discomfort). Effect sizes of sex-related differences varied according to the symptom (e.g. for pain effect strength d = 0.50, for nausea d = 0.60 and for thirst d = 0.13). Effect sizes decreased when the effect of expectation was statistically controlled. Logistic regression revealed that expectation was an independent predictor for the sensation of severe nausea (odds ratio OR 4.3] and intensive postoperative pain (OR 2.6). Regardless of gender, postoperative pain, nausea and dry mouth/thirst were symptoms with the highest affective load. Preoperative expectations increase gender differences in somatic complaints following surgery. Anesthesiological education of patients should influence dysfunctional expectations. Postoperative pain, nausea and thirst should be the main targets of interventions to improve patient complaints.
|Translated title of the contribution||[Postoperative complaints: gender differences in expectations, prevalence and appraisal].|
|Number of pages||9|
|Publication status||Published - 01.01.2013|