What determines patient satisfaction with surgery? A prospective cohort study of 4709 patients following total joint replacement

BMJ Open. 2013 Apr 9;3(4):e002525. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2012-002525. Print 2013.


Objectives: To investigate the factors which influence patient satisfaction with surgical services and to explore the relationship between overall satisfaction, satisfaction with specific facets of outcome and measured clinical outcomes (patient reported outcome measures (PROMs)).

Design: Prospective cohort study.

Setting: Single National Health Service (NHS) teaching hospital.

Participants: 4709 individuals undergoing primary lower limb joint replacement over a 4-year period (January 2006-December 2010).

Main outcome measures: Overall patient satisfaction, clinical outcomes as measured by PROMs (Oxford Hip or Knee Score, SF-12), satisfaction with five specific aspects of surgical outcome, attitudes towards further surgery, length of hospital stay.

Results: Overall patient satisfaction was predicted by: (1) meeting preoperative expectations (OR 2.62 (95% CI 2.24 to 3.07)), (2) satisfaction with pain relief (2.40 (2.00 to 2.87)), (3) satisfaction with the hospital experience (1.7 (1.45 to 1.91)), (4) 12 months (1.08 (1.05 to 1.10)) and (5) preoperative (0.95 (0.93 to 0.97)) Oxford scores. These five factors contributed to a model able to correctly predict 97% of the variation in overall patient satisfaction response. The factors having greatest effect were the degree to which patient expectations were met and satisfaction with pain relief; the Oxford scores carried little weight in the algorithm. Various factors previously reported to influence clinical outcomes such as age, gender, comorbidities and length of postoperative hospital stay did not help explain variation in overall patient satisfaction.

Conclusions: Three factors broadly determine the patient's overall satisfaction following lower limb joint arthroplasty; meeting preoperative expectations, achieving satisfactory pain relief, and a satisfactory hospital experience. Pain relief and expectations are managed by clinical teams; however, a fractured access to surgical services impacts on the patient's hospital experience which may reduce overall satisfaction. In the absence of complications, how we deliver healthcare may be of key importance along with the specifics of what we deliver, which has clear implications for units providing surgical services.