Psychological factors are associated with pain at all time frames after breast cancer surgery: a systematic review with meta-analyses

Niamh A. Moloney, Natasha C. Pocovi, Elizabeth S. Dylke, Petra L. Graham, An De Groef

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: This systematic review aimed to 1) assess associations between psychological factors and pain after breast cancer (BC) treatment and 2) determine which preoperative psychological factors predicted pain in the acute, subacute, and chronic time frames after BC surgery.  Design: A systematic review with meta-analysis.  Subjects: Women with early-stage BC.  Methods: The Medline, EMBASE, CINAHL, and Web of Science databases were searched between 1990 and January 2019. Studies that evaluated psychological factors and pain after surgery for early-stage BC were included. Associations between psychological factors and pain, from early after surgery to >12 months after surgery, were extracted. Effect size correlations (r equivalents) were calculated and pooled by using random-effects meta-analysis models.  Results: Of 4,137 studies, 47 were included (n = 15,987 participants; 26 studies ≤12 months after surgery and 22 studies >12 months after surgery). The majority of the studies had low to moderate risk of bias. Higher preoperative anxiety and depression were weak but significant predictors of pain at all time points up to 12 months (r equivalent: 0.15-0.22). Higher preoperative pain catastrophizing and distress were also weak but significant predictors of pain during the acute (0-7 days) and chronic (3-12 months) periods (r equivalent: 0.10-0.20). For the period >12 months after surgery, weak but significant cross-sectional associations with pain were identified for anxiety, depression, pain catastrophizing, and distress (r equivalents: 0.15, 0.17, 0.25, 0.14, respectively). Conclusion: Significant pooled effect size correlations between psychological factors and pain were identified across all time frames. Though weak, these associations should encourage assessment of key psychological factors during preoperative screening and pain assessments at all postoperative time frames.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)915-947
Number of pages33
JournalPain Medicine (United States)
Volume22
Issue number4
Early online date6 Feb 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Apr 2021

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