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 (< 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, < 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.