A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial of a Preoperative Patient Education Intervention to Improve Satisfaction and Reduce Resource Utilization in Gynecologic Surgery
During the initial surgical consult patients may feel overwhelmed by the information they are given regarding their diagnosis and surgical plan. We looked to determine if a preoperative patient educational intervention would improve patient satisfaction and optimize use of medical services after discharge.
Methods: We randomized women undergoing major gynecologic surgery by laparoscopy or laparotomy, to standard of care (Control) or a preoperative educational intervention. The pre-operative educational intervention consisted of: 1) a handout with information on inpatient and outpatient recovery and
2) a preoperative phone-call to review the handout and answer questions. At the post-operative visit, patients completed a Patient Satisfaction Questionnaire (PSQ-18), addressing satisfaction, interpersonal manner, communication, time spent with doctors and physician accessibility. The number of phone calls, emergency department visits and unscheduled post-operative clinic visits were quantified during the first 2 weeks after surgery. Descriptive statistics and t-tests were used for analysis.
Results: 62 consecutive patients were randomized: 31 to intervention and 31 to the control group. Within the cohort 35 patients underwent laparoscopy and 21 laparotomy, 6 patients withdrew or cancelled their surgery. Forty postoperative patient satisfaction questionnaires were collected, 20 in the intervention group and 20 in the control group (response rate 71%). Intervention was associated to increased patient satisfaction. In the LSC group, the intervention improved patients’ perception of their physicians’ interpersonal manners, communication and time spent with the doctor (p < 0.05). Only one patient (3.5%) in the intervention group visited the ER post-operatively (laparotomy, wound separation) compared to 5 (17.8%) control patients (4 laparoscopy, 1 laparotomy, p < 0.05), all for minor complaints (pain, anxiety, incision).
Conclusions: In our randomized trial this low-cost, feasible pre-operative educational intervention improves patients’ perception of their surgeons’ communication skills and decreased post-operative healthcare resource utilization. The effects are most pronounced in women undergoing minimally invasive surgery.