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Even before the invasion of Kuwait by the Iraqis in August 1990, the Ministry of Health (MOH) hospitals were overcrowded with patients. This overcrowding was very obvious on surgical floors. Two major reasons for the overcrowding were the high rate of admissions and the overstaying of some patients. The main reasons for overstaying were postoperative complications and patients' anxiety regarding their wounds, both of which could have been prevented or minimized through preoperative patient teaching. This study was done in order to identify the major components of a preoperative patient teaching programme as viewed by Arab and non-Arab surgical nurses and patients, which will serve as a guide in formulating a structured teaching programme for surgical patients. It will also assess the adequacy of preoperative patient teaching done by nurses.