Exploring the expectation-actuality discrepancy: a systematic review of the impact of preoperative expectations on satisfaction and patient reported outcomes in spinal surgery

Christopher D. Witiw, Alireza Mansouri, Francois Mathieu, Farshad Nassiri, Jetan H. Badhiwala, Richard G. Fessler

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

12 Scopus citations

Abstract

Quality in healthcare is increasingly graded through a patient-centric lens, using reports of satisfaction and self-perceived outcome. Preestablished expectations have been recognized to influence these measures. With this review, we aim to examine the impact of expectations on satisfaction and patient-reported outcomes (PRO) for individuals undergoing elective spine surgery. We systematically searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, and Cochrane Library electronic databases from inception to July 2015 for studies examining the relationship between expectations and satisfaction/PROs in the context of elective spinal surgery. Qualitative synthesis centered around three key questions: (1) Does the magnitude of preoperative expectations impact patient satisfaction and/or PRO after surgery? (2) Does the underlying spinal pathology influence this relationship? (3) What is the impact of unmet expectations on satisfaction? A total of 1489 citations were retrieved. Nineteen met our inclusion criteria. These comprised 3383 patients; 3200 had lumbar and only 183 had cervical spine surgery. Three findings prevailed: (1) high preoperative expectations appear to be associated with higher satisfaction and PROs after surgery for focal lumbar disc herniation, but not for lumbar spinal stenosis; (2) patient expectations frequently exceed actual outcome, creating an “expectation-actuality discrepancy” (E-AD); and (3) high-quality studies suggest a larger E-AD portends lower satisfaction. Limitations to the data include heterogeneous study populations and surgical indications, along with the use of non-validated assessment tools, particularly for satisfaction. Our findings highlight the potential importance of establishing realistic expectations prior to surgery and may serve to direct future research efforts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19-30
Number of pages12
JournalNeurosurgical Review
Volume41
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology

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