Objective: The objectives of this survey were (1) to study if surgeons' perceptions of the benefit of six surgical procedures differ if they consider themselves as patients instead of treating a patient, (2) to evaluate the role of five predetermined factors that may influence decision-making, and (3) to assess how uniformly hand surgeons and hand therapists perceive the benefits of the surgical treatments.
Methods: The members of the national societies for Hand Surgery and Hand Therapy were asked to participate in the survey. Six patient cases with hand complaint (carpal tunnel syndrome, flexor tendon injury, dorsal wrist ganglion, thumb amputation, boxer's fracture, and mallet fracture) and a proposed operative procedure were presented, and the respondents rated the procedures in terms of the expected benefit. Half of the surgeons were advised to consider themselves as patients when filling out the survey.
Results: A survey was completed by 56 surgeons (61%) and 59 therapists (20%). Surgeons who considered themselves as patients had less confident perception on the benefit of carpal tunnel release compared with surgeons, who considered treating patients. Hand surgeons and hand therapists had similar perception of the benefits of surgery. The expected functional result was regarded as the most important factor in directing the decision about the treatment.
Conclusions: Surgeons tended to be more unanimous in their opinions in cases, where there is limited evidence on treatment effect. The agreement between surgeons and therapists implies that the clinical perspectives are similar, and probably reflect the reality well.
Keywords: Survey; carpal tunnel syndrome; decision-making; hand; questionnaire; surgery.