Publication Date



patient-reported outcomes, PROMs, surgery outcomes, orthopedics, joint replacement, spinal fusion


Purpose: Patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) are increasingly used in clinical care, but there have been few studies of what patients identify as the most important outcomes.

Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 65 patients undergoing hip or knee replacement, spinal discectomy/laminotomy, or a spinal fusion. Interviews focused on outcomes patients identified as important, perceived usefulness of standardized PROMs measures, and contextual situations important to their care. Data were analyzed using a directed content analysis approach.

Results: Patients identified desired outcomes that were unique and important to them. Their preferred outcomes focused in the areas of freedom from pain, getting back to their normal life, and returning to an active lifestyle. Patients cared more about their individual preferred outcomes, which had more meaning for them, than a standardized PROM score. Patients also identified particular contextual situations that their care team was assumed to know about but that may not have been known.

Conclusions: Patients identify specific preferred outcomes from these surgical procedures that are important and meaningful to them and that frame whether they see their surgery as a success. They also identified personal factors that they assume their surgeons know about, which affect their care and recovery. These findings underscore the importance of engaging patients in discussions about their preferences and contextual factors both prior to and after surgery.




November 7th, 2019


January 15th, 2020


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