A Novel Surgical Patient Engagement Model: A Qualitative Study of Postoperative Patients

J Surg Res. 2020 Apr:248:82-89. doi: 10.1016/j.jss.2019.11.025. Epub 2019 Dec 23.


Background: Strong patient engagement is often associated with better postoperative outcomes and reduced risk of dangerous and expensive complications for the patient. Our goal with this project is to define a new model specifically for surgical patient engagement to guide future work to improve patient outcomes.

Methods: Open-ended qualitative interviews were conducted with 38 postoperative patients, analyzed using the conventional content analysis method, and coded with NVivo 11. Patients from either a safety net or private hospital in the Houston area between the ages of 18 and 70 y were recruited after surgery for either thyroid, parathyroid, colon, or rectal cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, and diverticulitis. Pregnant and incarcerated patients in addition to those with postoperative complications or interview time frames greater than 4 wk postoperatively were excluded.

Results: Of patients completing the Patient Activation Measure, 98% obtained a score of 3 or 4, indicating optimal levels of activation despite differences in socio-economic status. Upon analysis of coded transcripts, four main themes of "self-efficacy," "resilience," "transitional agency," and "enabling agency," in addition to a fifth emergency rescue activator, "family and social support," were discovered as "drivers" of patient engagement.

Conclusions: A novel model of patient engagement specific to surgical patients is necessary because of the unique recovery track they endure. Our new model can be used to develop interventions for these patients to improve their engagement and thereby their outcomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Participation / psychology*
  • Postoperative Period*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Resilience, Psychological
  • Self Efficacy
  • Social Support
  • Surgical Procedures, Operative / rehabilitation*