For 2 months elective surgical patients (n = 259) were asked preoperatively about their expectations of pain and pain relief. At both 24 and 72 h after their surgery they were asked about their pain and pain control. The analgesics they received were monitored for the first 72 h. The survey revealed that patients do not have the necessary knowledge about pain relief to contribute effectively in their own pain management. Analgesics administered intermittently were generally effective when given, however, the dosing interval was too long for the agents used resulting in frequent reports of poor pain relief. We conclude that patients need better education on postoperative pain control therapy. Medical staff could prescribe, and nursing staff administer, analgesics more effectively.