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Health Expect. 2009 Jun;12(2):149-59. doi: 10.1111/j.1369-7625.2009.00538.x. Epub 2009 Feb 22.

Information and behavioural instruction along the health-care pathway: the perspective of people undergoing hernia repair surgery and the role of formal and informal information sources.

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University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, UK.



Provision of information and behavioural instruction has been demonstrated to improve recovery after surgery. However, patients draw on a range of information sources and it is important to establish which sources patients use and how this influences perceptions and behaviour as they progress along the surgical pathway. In this qualitative, exploratory and longitudinal study, the use of information and instruction were explored from the perspective of people undergoing inguinal hernia repair surgery.


Seven participants undergoing inguinal hernia repair surgery were interviewed using semi-structured interviews 2 weeks before surgery and 2 weeks and 4 months post-surgery. Nineteen interviews were conducted in total. Topic guides included sources of knowledge, reasons for help-seeking and opting for surgery and factors influencing return to activity. Data were analysed thematically according to Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis.


Participants sought information from a range of sources, focusing on informal information sources before surgery and using information and instruction from health-care professionals post-surgery. This information influenced behaviours including deciding to undergo surgery, use of pain medication and returning to usual activity. Anxiety and help-seeking resulted when unexpected post-surgical events occurred such as extensive bruising. Findings were consistent with psychological and sociological theories. Overall, participants were positive about the information and instruction they received but expressed a desire for more timely information on post-operative adverse events.

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