• pain;
  • clinical audit;
  • telephone;
  • interview;
  • ethics;
  • continuous improvement;
  • research methodology

Talking on the telephone with people who have experienced pain in hospital: clinical audit or research?¶ The adequacy of postoperative pain management in British hospitals appears insufficient to improve patient care, and much of the research and clinical audit in postoperative pain has failed to seek the patient’s perspective. This paper reports on the findings from a semi-structured telephone interview survey which formed part of a hospital-wide audit on postoperative pain at a district general hospital in the south of England. Of a total of 360 completed audit questionnaires, 114 patients left their telephone number and 29 were interviewed. Content analysis revealed five main themes: inadequate information, pain at home, staff attitudes, expectations of pain, and ward atmosphere. Several patients identified insightful strategies that potentially could improve pain management. The telephone interview generated a richness of data that had not been reported before in this important area. Some authors view clinical audit and research as having different characteristics but this work raises important questions for both approaches when using the semi-structured telephone interview. The ethical issues pertaining to collection of audit data using the telephone interview are discussed.