INTRODUCTION:Approximately 400 000 Americans and 36 000 Canadians undergo cardiac surgery annually, and up to 56% will develop chronic postsurgical pain (CPSP). The primary aim of this study is to explore the association of pain-related beliefs and gender-based pain expectations on the development of CPSP. Secondary goals are to: (A) explore risk factors for poor functional status and patient-level cost of illness from a societal perspective up to 12 months following cardiac surgery; and (B) determine the impact of CPSP on quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) borne by cardiac surgery, in addition to the incremental cost for one additional QALY gained, among those who develop CPSP compared with those who do not. METHODS AND ANALYSES:In this prospective cohort study, 1250 adults undergoing cardiac surgery, including coronary artery bypass grafting and open-heart procedures, will be recruited over a 3-year period. Putative risk factors for CPSP will be captured prior to surgery, at postoperative day 3 (in hospital) and day 30 (at home). Outcome data will be collected via telephone interview at 6-month and 12-month follow-up. We will employ generalised estimating equations to model the primary (CPSP) and secondary outcomes (function and cost) while adjusting for prespecified model covariates. QALYs will be estimated by converting data from the Short Form-12 (version 2) to a utility score. ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION:This protocol has been approved by the responsible bodies at each of the hospital sites, and study enrolment began May 2015. We will disseminate our results through CardiacPain.Net, a web-based knowledge dissemination platform, presentation at international conferences and publications in scientific journals. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER:NCT01842568.