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Cureus. 2020 Feb 4;12(2):e6880. doi: 10.7759/cureus.6880.

Patient Perspectives on the Participation of Neurosurgery Resident Physicians in Their Care.

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Neurosurgery, Desert Regional Medical Center, Palm Springs, USA.
Neurosurgery, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA.


Introduction Surgical residents play vital roles in day-to-day patient care as well as in the operating room. However, there is a paucity of literature regarding patients' perspectives on neurosurgical residents and their participation in their care. This current study investigates the knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs of patients regarding neurosurgical residents and their involvement in their healthcare process. Methods Patients older than 18 years who had undergone brain or spine surgery were requested to complete a survey questionnaire. The 7-point Likert scale response ranging from "strongly agree", "agree", "more or less agree", "undecided", more or less disagree", "disagree" to "strongly disagree" was used. The primary objective was to assess patient understanding and attitudes towards resident participation in surgical and medical care within the specialty of neurosurgery. The duration of the study was eight months. Patients having prior exposure to an informed-consent procedure by a neurosurgery team within a year prior to this study were excluded. Data were analyzed using Student's t-test, one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA), and standard averaging of responses. Results Fifty-one patients who had undergone elective surgery participated in the study survey. The majority of these respondents were between the ages of 46 and 60 years. Most of the responses were similar across gender and different age groups for most of the questions on the Likert scale questionnaire. Overall, when asked to assess their comfort level in medical and surgical care participation by residents, patients responded positively (strongly agree: 80.4%; agree: 92.2%). Patients also either disagreed or strongly disagreed (76%) about residents lacking medical knowledge. Patients overwhelmingly disagreed (91.5%) when asked if residents were unprofessional. In addition, 72.5% of the patients were able to accurately define a resident's role. Conclusion Well-formatted surveys can offer a convenient route for patients to provide objective as well as subjective feedback. The results indicate that patients had an overall positive attitude toward having residents involved in their care. These trends also indicate that patients knew the role that residents played in their healthcare process and they were comfortable with them doing so. Further studies may expand the trial to include a larger number of patients, as well as other specialties, to expand the scope of the study. Patient survey questionnaires could be thought of as a useful tool by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) to incorporate as part of the evaluation process of resident physicians.


feedback; neurosurgery; patient; patient's perspective; resident; survey

Conflict of interest statement

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

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