Background Little is known about how well postoperative pain is managed in living liver donors, despite pain severity being the strongest predictor of persistent pain with long-lasting disability. Methods We conducted a prospective multicenter study of 172 living liver donors. Self-reported outcomes for pain severity, activity interference, affective (emotional) reactions, adverse effects to treatment, and perceptions of care were collected using the American Pain Society Patient Outcomes Questionnaire-Revised. Mixed-effects linear regression was used to identify demographic and psychosocial predictors of subscale scores. Results Donors were young (36.8 ± 10.6) and healthy. Of 12 expert society analgesic recommendations for postoperative pain management, 49% received care conforming to 3 guidelines, and only 9% to 4 or 5. More than half reported adverse effects to analgesic treatment for moderate to severe pain that interfered with functional activity; however, emotional distress to pain was unexpectedly minimal. Female donors had higher affective (β = 0.88, P = 0.005) and adverse effects scores (β = 1.33, P < 0.001). Donors with 2 or more medical concerns before surgery averaged 1 unit higher pain severity, functional interference, adverse effects, and affective reaction subscale scores (β range 1.06-1.55, all P < 0.05). Receiving information about pain treatment options increased perception of care subscale scores (β = 1.24, P = 0.001), whereas depressive symptoms before donation were associated with lower scores (β =-1.58, P = 0.01). Conclusions Donors have a distinct profile of pain reporting that is highly influenced by psychological characteristics. Interventions to improve pain control should consider modifying donor behavioral characteristics in addition to optimizing pain care protocols.
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