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Cataract surgery is the most common surgical operation carried out by ophthalmologists. Patients undergoing cataract surgery have been found to have a low level of understanding of the operation, and this is increasingly being linked with increasing patient dissatisfaction.1
Pager's recent article2 showed that a simple inexpensive videotape showing patients what to expect from cataract surgery increases their understanding and satisfaction with the surgery, as well as reduces patient anxiety. We carried out a cross‐sectional study to look at whether a multimedia visual computer program improved patients' understanding of cataract surgery as compared to a paper leaflet.
A total of 42 patients with ophthalmic disorders, with no history of cataract, were allocated to either the computer program or the leaflet group. Understanding of cataract and cataract surgery was assessed by means of a questionnaire relating to what is a cataract and what was involved in the operation.
The results showed that understanding was markedly improved in the computer group as compared with the paper leaflet group. In all, 70% of patients in the computer group had a good understanding of what is a cataract as compared with 59% in the paper leaflet group. Also, 68% of patients in the computer program group had a good understanding of what was involved in the operation as compared with 58% in the paper leaflet group. Mean age in both groups were similar (58.4 v 60.2 years).
Multimedia visual information is an important tool for teaching; this also involves patients. The results signify that information given via a computer program improves understanding of cataracts and cataract surgery. This has similar connotations to the findings by Pager in his recent article, which is an important and timely reminder of the need to improve ways of increasing patient understanding and satisfaction in cataract surgery.
This is only a pilot computer program and still requires modifications, but it is thought that using such a computer‐based program would be a vital resource for patients in undergoing cataract surgery. Unfortunately, at present, few ophthalmic units have developed new ways of improving patient understanding of cataract surgery. It is hoped that this would act as a template for such development.
In our study, only patients without a history of cataract were included to limit bias due to previous knowledge of cataract. Our study therefore is a good reliable indicator of the use of computer‐based information in improving understanding of cataract and cataract surgery in two similar ophthalmic patient populations. We believe that this is mainly due to the improved visual representation of cataract surgery.
Competing interests: None.