Date of Award


Degree Name

PhD Nursing

Dissertation Committee

Jane M. Georges, PhD, RN, Chairperson; Ann M. Mayo, DNSc, RN, FAAN; Kathleen M. Stacy, PhD, RN


Hispanic Adults, Pain, Qualitative Research, Phenomenology, Lived Experience, Surgery


Background: In 2010, more than 51.4 million procedures were performed in hospitals in the United States. Almost half of all patients had a surgical procedure prior to their hospital discharge and over 80% of patients experienced acute pain after surgery. When acute pain persists for two or more months after surgery, chronic pain develops, costing the United States up to $635 billion annually. Hispanics, in particular, disproportionately experience disparities in pain treatment as they are less likely to receive analgesics. Routine pain assessments conducted using instruments may be inaccurately capturing the pain experience of Hispanic adults. No research has revealed the essence of the experience after surgery among hospitalized, Hispanic adults.

Purpose: To describe the lived experience after surgery among Hispanics adults.

Methods: This qualitative study followed a descriptive phenomenological approach. Hispanic adults, who experienced and communicated pain after surgery, were interviewed while hospitalized at an academic medical center in Southern California. Purposive, criterion sampling continued until data saturation was reached. In-person, semi-structured interviews were digitally recorded and transcribed. Then, a descriptive identification of the lived experience was formulated following Colaizzi’s procedural steps for analyzing phenomenological data. The 10 participants, of whom five were female, were aged 23 to 83 years. Six participants were interviewed in Spanish and all interviews occurred 1 to 15 days from the most recent inpatient surgery.

Findings: Five clusters of themes emerged and represented the fundamental structure of the phenomenon: (a) uniquely distressing and individually defined, (b) conflicting emotional, psychological, and spiritual needs, (c) extreme vulnerability and reliance on others, (d) underlying inequality in knowing and being, and (e) awareness of mortality. A descriptive identification of the phenomenon was formulated from the themes and revealed the meaning and essence of the lived experience after surgery among Hispanic adults.

Conclusion: The lived experience after surgery among Hispanic adults exposes a dichotomy between recipients and providers of care within hospitals that must be addressed to promote compassion and alleviate suffering. Within the narrow context of acute pain after surgery, further research is needed to modify existing or develop new instruments used for routine pain assessments in order to improve subsequent treatment.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access



Included in

Nursing Commons