Barriers to Post-Discharge Monitoring and Patient-Clinician Communication: A Qualitative Study

J Surg Res. 2021 Jul 15;268:1-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jss.2021.06.032. Online ahead of print.


Introduction: As postoperative length of stay has decreased for many operations, the proportion of complications occurring post-discharge is increasing. Early identification and management of these complications requires overcoming barriers to effective post-discharge monitoring and communication. The aim of this study was to identify barriers to post-discharge monitoring and patient-clinician communication through a qualitative study of surgical patients and clinicians.

Materials and methods: Semi-structured interviews and focus groups were held with gastrointestinal surgery patients and clinicians. Participants were asked about barriers to post-discharge monitoring and communication. Each transcript was coded by 2 of 4 researchers, and recurring themes related to communication and care barriers were identified.

Results: A total of 15 patients and 17 clinicians participated in interviews and focus groups. Four themes which encompassed barriers to post-discharge monitoring and communication were identified from patient interviews, and 4 barriers were identified from clinician interviews and focus groups. Patient-identified barriers included education and expectation setting, technology access and literacy, availability of resources and support, and misalignment of communication preferences, while clinician-identified barriers included health education, access to clinical team, healthcare practitioner time constraints, and care team experience and consistency.

Conclusions: Multiple barriers exist to effective post-discharge monitoring and patient-clinician communication among surgical patients. These barriers must be addressed to develop an effective system for post-discharge care after surgery.

Keywords: Gastrointestinal surgical procedures: Surgical oncology: Communication: Patient discharge: Continuity of patient care: Qualitative research.