Sources of Patients’ Expectations of Lumbar Surgery

    loading  Checking for direct PDF access through Ovid


Study Design.

Cross-sectional mixed methods analysis of sources of expectations of lumbar surgery.


To ascertain sources of expectations and compare them to clinical characteristics.

Summary of Background Data.

Understanding where patients obtain expectations of lumbar surgery is necessary in order to develop interventions to foster appropriate expectations.


This was a qualitative-quantitative study of 428 patients interviewed preoperatively with a 20-item validated survey which asks patients how much improvement they expect per item. Patients then were asked open-ended questions about how they came to have these expectations and, using qualitative analysis, responses were grouped into themes representing different sources of expectations. The likelihood of citing various sources was then assessed with odds ratios based on demographic and clinical characteristics.


Patients’ mean age was 55, 80% had degenerative diagnoses and 24% had prior lumbar surgery. Patients volunteered multiple sources; most prevalent were current surgeon (83%), internet resources (55%), social network contacts (26%), other physicians (22%); and previous experience (65%) for the subgroup who had prior lumbar surgery. Patients were more likely to cite their surgeon if they had less disability (OR 2.8,CI 1.3–5.8,p = .007), were treated with conservative care, such as physical therapy (OR 2.7,CI 1.6–4.7,p = .0003), and had symptoms for ≤12 months (OR 1.8,CI 1.1–3.0,p = .03). Patients who cited the internet were employed (OR 2.2;CI 1.5–3.3;p < .0001), were treated with physical therapy (OR 1.9;CI 1.2–3.1; p = .006), had a negative screen for depression (OR 1.8;CI 1.2–2.8; p = .004), and were younger (OR 1.6;CI 1.1–2.4;p = .02). Patients were less likely to expect complete improvement for most items of the survey if they had prior lumbar surgery (p = .002) or other orthopedic surgery (p = .02).


Patients derive their expectations of lumbar surgery from multiple sources. Some sources are modifiable through enhanced communication with surgeons and potentially through novel modes of education, such as web-based resources that are specifically designed to address expectations.


Level of Evidence: 2

Related Topics

    loading  Loading Related Articles