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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/24337

Title: Patient Preferences, Referral Practices, and Surgeon Enthusiasm for Degenerative Lumbar Spinal Surgery
Authors: Bederman, S. Samuel
Advisor: Wright, James G.
Department: Medical Science
Keywords: spinal surgery
patient preferences
physician preferences
regional variation
Issue Date: 15-Apr-2010
Abstract: Degenerative disease of the lumbar spine (DDLS) is a common condition for which surgery is beneficial in selected patients. Wide variation in surgical referral and rates of surgery has been observed contributing to unequal access to care. Our objectives were to examine (1) the variation in preferences for referral and surgery among surgeons, family physicians (FPs) and patients, (2) how FP referral practices compare with preferences and guideline recommendations, and (3) how the ‘enthusiasm’ of patients and physicians influence regional variation in surgical rates. We used conjoint analysis in a mailed survey to elicit preferences based on clinical vignettes from surgeons, FPs and patients. A Delphi expert panel provided consensus guideline recommendations for surgical referral to compare with actual FP referral practices. Rates of surgery for DDLS, obtained from Ontario hospital discharge data, were used to quantify regional variation and regression models assessed the relationship with patient and physician enthusiasm. We identified significant differences in preferences for referral and surgery between patients, FPs and surgeons. Surgeons placed high importance on leg-dominant symptoms while patients had high importance for quality of life symptoms (i.e. severity, duration, walking tolerance). Surgical referral practices were poorly predicted by individual FP preferences and guideline recommendations based on clinical factors alone. Variation in Ontario surgical rates was higher than that of hip or knee replacements and was highly associated with the enthusiasm of surgeons (p<0.008), rather than FPs or patients. By appreciating the variation in preferences between patients and physicians, and exploring other non-clinical factors that influence referrals, we may be able to improve the efficiency of referrals and enhance the shared decision making process. With an understanding of the influence that surgeons have in driving variation in surgical rates, further research may allow us to direct strategies to improve access and allow for a more equitable delivery of care for patients suffering from DDLS.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/24337
Appears in Collections:Doctoral
Institute of Medical Science - Doctoral theses

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