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Preoperative education for lumbar radiculopathy: A survey of US spine surgeons

Adriaan Louw, PT, MSc, PhD(c),1,2 David S. Butler, PT, EdD,3 Ina Diener, PT,1 PhD, Emilio J. Puentedura, PT, DPT, PhD1,4
1International Spine Pain Institute, Story City, IA 2Department of Physiotherapy, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa 3Neuro Orthopaedic Institute and University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia 4Department of Physical Therapy, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Las Vegas, NV

Abstract 

Background

We sought to determine current utilization, importance, content, and delivery methods of preoperative education by spine surgeons in the United States for patients with lumbar radiculopathy.

Methods

An online cross-sectional survey was used to study a random sample of spine surgeons in the United States. The Spinal Surgery Education Questionnaire (SSEQ) was developed based on previous related surveys and assessed for face and content validity by an expert panel. The SSEQ captured information on demographics, content, delivery methods, utilization, and importance of preoperative education as rated by surgeons. Descriptive statistics were used to describe the current utilization, importance, content, and delivery methods of preoperative education by spine surgeons in the United States for patients with lumbar radiculopathy.

Results

Of 200 surgeons, 89 (45% response rate) responded to the online survey. The majority (64.2%) provide preoperative education informally during the course of clinical consultation versus a formal preoperative education session. The mean time from the decision to undergo surgery to the date of surgery was 33.65 days. The highest rated educational topics are surgical procedure (96.3%), complications (96.3%), outcomes/expectations (93.8%), anatomy (92.6%), amount of postoperative pain expected (90.1%), and hospital stay (90.1%). Surgeons estimated spending approximately 20% of the preoperative education time specifically addressing pain. Seventy-five percent of the surgeons personally provide the education, and nearly all surgeons (96.3%) use verbal communication with the use of a spine model.

Conclusions

Spine surgeons believe that preoperative education is important and use a predominantly biomedical approach in preparing patients for surgery. Larger studies are needed to validate these findings.

keywords: 
spine, Surgery, Education, survey, Preoperative
Volume 6
doi: 
10.1016/j.ijsp.2012.03.001