Although more severe acute postoperative pain increases the risk of chronic pain following breast cancer surgery, few studies have examined the characteristics of patients who develop greater acute pain. To identify risk factors for acute pain and its persistence one month following breast cancer surgery, a sample of 114 women scheduled for breast cancer surgery was assessed preoperatively for demographic, clinical, and emotional functioning variables that were hypothesized to be associated with acute pain severity. Clinically meaningful postoperative pain was assessed at follow-up interviews 2, 10, and 30 days after surgery. In univariate analyses, the risk of clinically meaningful acute pain was increased among women who were younger, unmarried, had more invasive surgeries, and had greater preoperative emotional distress. In multiple logistic regression analyses, greater preoperative anxiety was the only variable that made an independent contribution to predicting clinically meaningful acute pain at 2 days after surgery whereas younger age, being unmarried, and preoperative anxiety each made an independent contribution to predicting clinically meaningful acute pain that persisted from 2 to 30 days after surgery. These results increase understanding of neurobiologic mechanisms and psychosocial processes that contribute to the development of acute pain following breast cancer surgery and have implications for the development of interventions to prevent it.
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