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Exploring the care experience of patients undergoing spinal surgery: a qualitative study


  • Funding: This study was funded by Arthritis Research UK.

  • Conflicts of interest: None.

Dr Rachel Davis, Clinical Safety Research Unit, Imperial College London, Department of Surgery and Cancer, 10th floor, QEQM, St. Mary's Hospital, South Wharf Road, London W2 1NY, UK, E-mail:


Purpose  This exploratory study sought to explore the patient experience of the surgical journey from decision to operate, to hospitalization, discharge and subsequent recovery.

Design  Patients attended one of two focus group discussions.

Patient sample  Seven patients that had undergone surgery for spinal stenosis or disc prolapsed participated, aged between 48–75 years (mean age 59); five were male.

Methods  Patients’ attitudes towards the information and care they received from the point of the decision to operate through to post-operative recovery were explored. Particular attention was paid to patients’ information needs, support provided, general understanding of the processes and ways in which care could have been improved.

Results  Patients identified nine main ‘needs’ they felt played an integral part in enhancing the patient experience including the need for reduced waiting times, for better information and preparation, to be proactive, to speak up and ask questions, to feel safe and to be treated with dignity and respect; and the need for ongoing support, human contact, and; continuity of care.

Conclusion  These findings suggest that there are several measures that could be taken to improve the patient's surgical experience. In particular, providing appropriate information to patients in a timely manner and ensuring that support and advice is easily accessible for those patients that need it are key areas for improvement.