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Recent evidence suggests that postoperative pain is poorly controlled and it is reported that nearly 75% of hospitalized patients failed to receive adequate pain relief It was hypothesized that there was no difference between expected and experienced pain and that pain scores on the first postoperative day would be‘low’ Factors affecting the management of pain were identified using a patient questionnaire A Visual Analogue Scale was used to measure patients’ pain, pre- and post-operatively A patient questionnaire explored pain experience and identified contributing factors A review of all analgesia prescribed and given to the patients was undertaken Twenty-one surgical patients participated in the study There was a significant difference between preoperative expectations and postoperative experience of pain No relationship was found between the doses of analgesia and pain scores on the first day postoperatively and pain scores on the first day postoperahvely were not ‘low’ The nurse did not play a key role in the preoperahve information given to the patient Patients experienced ‘worsened’ pain in the morning and evening Nurses questioning patients about their pain often failed to identify those in pain