Provision of adequate patient information may contribute to a “satisfying” surgical treatment. The patient’s views on successful transfer of information concerning operative characteristics may not be in concert with the surgeon’s. The aim of the present study was to determine opinions of both surgeons and patients about issues of surgical information.
A group of surgeons (n = 24) and surgical patients (n = 125) responded to a questionnaire that included 80 topics involving domains of information on disease, physical examination, preoperative period, anesthesia, operation, postoperative period, self care, and general hospital issues. Both groups were asked for their opinion on what they considered important and useful preoperative information for patients. Questions were scored with a visual analog scale. The reliability of the questionnaire was calculated with Cronbach’s alpha. Differences in opinions between surgeons and patients were analyzed with Student’s t-test.
The Cronbach’s alpha of the questionnaire was high (0.91), indicating its high reliability. Patients scored significantly higher (p < 0.001) in most domains, including preoperative period, anaesthesia, operation, postoperative period, self care, and general hospital information. Women demonstrated a significantly higher need for information than men did. These findings were independent of patient age or complexity of operation. In contrast, surgeons thought that their patients desired more extensive information on cause, effect, and prognosis of the disease itself (p < 0.001).
Surgeons generally underestimate their patients’ desire for receiving extensive information prior to a surgical procedure of any complexity. Surgeons should develop strategies to bridge this informational mismatch.