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Scoliosis. 2009 May 8;4:12. doi: 10.1186/1748-7161-4-12.

Towards an understanding of the information and support needs of surgical adolescent idiopathic scoliosis patients: a qualitative analysis.

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The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.



Informed decision making for adolescents and families considering surgery for scoliosis requires essential information, including expected outcomes with or without treatment and the associated risks and benefits of treatment. Ideally families should also receive support in response to their individual concerns. The aim of this study was to identify health-specific needs for online information and support for patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis who have had or anticipate having spinal surgery.


Focus group methodology was chosen as the primary method of data collection to encourage shared understandings, as well as permit expression of specific, individual views. Participants were considered eligible to participate if they had either experienced or were anticipating surgery for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis within 12 months, were between the ages of 10 and 18 years of age, and were English-speaking.


Two focus groups consisting of 8 adolescents (1 male, 7 female) and subsequent individual interviews with 3 adolescents (1 male, 2 female) yielded a range of participant concerns, in order of prominence: (1) recovery at home; (2) recovery in hospital; (3) post-surgical appearance; (4) emotional impact of surgery and coping; (5) intrusion of surgery and recovery of daily activities; (6) impact of surgery on school, peer relationships and other social interactions; (7) decision-making about surgery; (8) being in the operating room and; (9) future worries.


In conclusion, adolescents welcomed the possibility of an accessible, youth-focused website with comprehensive and accurate information that would include the opportunity for health professional-moderated, online peer support.

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