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Communication gap exists between seniors and surgeons, study finds
Date:7/31/2008

INDIANAPOLIS -- The decision to undergo surgery can be particularly difficult and confusing for older adults. In a study published in the July 2008 issue of the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Richard M. Frankel, Ph.D., of the Indiana University School of Medicine, and colleagues report that older patients and their surgeons do not communicate effectively when exploring surgical treatment options.

The researchers audiotaped patient-surgeon consultations and later interviewed the patients regarding their concerns about surgery to find out what, if anything, they had not discussed with their surgeons. The researchers found that the older adults had raised only about half of the concerns mentioned in the subsequent interview.

"Unexpressed concerns are challenging because they can lead to different expectations and understanding of the problems patients are concerned about and treatment recommendations that are poorly tailored to patient needs," said Dr. Frankel, a professor of medicine at the IU School of Medicine and a Regenstrief research scientist. He is also is a member of the Center for Health Services Outcomes Research at the Regenstrief Institute and the Center for Implementing Evidence-Based Practice at the Richard L. Roudebush Veteran's Administration Medical Center in Indianapolis.

Dr. Frankel and his colleagues noted that if concerns are unexpressed, "physicians will have little chance to correct or modify them. Unfortunately unexpressed concerns may contribute to breakdowns in communication which are frustrating for both physicians and patients."

The overwhelming majority (84 percent) of older adult concerns related to the surgery itself. Concerns about anticipated quality of life after surgery, the post-surgery care facility and timing of surgery were among those most frequently voiced by older adults.

A mere 16 percent of older patient concerns were related to the surgeons including doubts
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Contact: Cindy Fox Aisen
caisen@iupui.edu
317-274-7722
Indiana University
Source:Eurekalert

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