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Physical well-being in postoperative period: a survey in patients, nurses and physicians


  • Óscar Andión PhD,

    Associate Psychologist
    1. Department of Psychiatry and CIBERSAM, Hospital Universitari Vall d'Hebron, Barcelona, Spain
    2. Department of Psychiatry and Legal Medicine, Institute of Neurosciences, School of Medicine, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Campus de Bellaterra, Cerdanyola, Spain
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  • Montserrat Cañellas MD, PhD,

    Senior Anesthesiologist
    1. Department of Anaesthesiology, Corporació Sanitària Parc Taulí, Sabadell, Spain
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  • Josep-E Baños MD, PhD

    Professor, Corresponding author
    1. Department of Health and Experimental Sciences, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain
    • Correspondence: Josep-E Baños, Professor, Department of Health and Experimental Sciences, School of Health and Life Sciences, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Dr. Aiguader 88, 08003 Barcelona, Spain. Telephone: +34 93 316 08 65.


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Aims and objectives

To determine which unpleasant conditions might contribute to postoperative physical well-being, as judged by patients, nurses and physicians.


Healthcare professionals have rarely assessed holistic postoperative well-being. Most studies have focused on specific symptoms, and a broader survey is lacking.


A prospective study, which collected information on the causes of decreased physical well-being in the postoperative period.


The study was carried out in 101 patients who subsequently underwent elective surgery, in 82 physicians and in 40 nurses, all from the same hospital. A questionnaire was used for each sample, which included an inventory of 12 items, which have been associated with the worsening of postoperative physical well-being in the literature. Patients were asked to fill out the questionnaire on the second or third postoperative day and score each item from 0–10.


Physicians rated pain (8·45), vomiting (6·68) and nausea (6·55) the highest. Nurses scored pain (8·48), nasogastric tube (7·13) and nausea (7·10) at the top. Insomnia and oxygen mask were scored significantly higher by nurses than by physicians. Patients scored pain (5·41) and movement restriction (4·62) the highest. When departments were compared, statistical differences were seen in nausea, vomiting, intravenous drips, nasogastric tube and oxygen mask.


This survey shows that there is a general agreement between nurses and physicians regarding what contributes to decreased postoperative physical well-being, with few exceptions. However, healthcare professionals may differently rate some items that patients find as the most troubling.

Relevance to clinical practice

This survey shows that, besides pain, other symptoms can affect the physical well-being of patients during the postoperative period. Alleviation of some symptoms and the use of medical devices only when they are really needed may help to improve the well-being of patients.