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Panagiotis Kerezoudis, Mohammed Ali Alvi, Daniel S. Ubl, Kristine T. Hanson, William E. Krauss, Fredric B. Meyer, Robert J. Spinner, Elizabeth B. Habermann and Mohamad Bydon


Patient-reported outcomes have been increasingly mandated by regulators and payers to evaluate hospital and physician performance. The purpose of this study is to delineate the differences in patient-reported experience of hospital care for cranial and spinal operations.


The authors selected all patients who underwent inpatient, elective cranial or spinal procedures and completed the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey at a single, high-volume, tertiary care institution between October 2012 and September 2015. The association of the surgical procedure and diagnosis with various HCAHPS composite measures, calculated across 9 domains using standard top-box methodology, was investigated. Multivariable logistic regression models were fitted for outcomes that were significant with procedure type and diagnosis group on univariate analysis, adjusting for age, sex, case complexity, overall health rating, and education level.


A total of 1484 patients met criteria and returned an HCAHPS survey. Overall, patients undergoing a cranial procedure gave top-box (most favorable) scores more often in pain management measure (66.3% vs 59.6%, p = 0.01) compared with those undergoing spine surgery. Furthermore, despite better discharge scores (93.1% vs 87.1%, p < 0.001), spinal patients were less likely to report excellent health (7.4% vs 12.7%). Lastly, patients with a primary diagnosis of brain or spinal tumor compared with those with degenerative spinal disease and those with other neurosurgical diagnoses provided top-box scores more often regarding communication with doctors (82.7% vs 76.4% vs 75.2%, p = 0.04), pain management (71.8% vs 60.9% vs 59.1%, p = 0.002), and global rating (90.4% vs 84.0% vs 87.3%, p = 0.02). On multivariable analysis, spinal patients had significantly lower odds of reporting top-box scores in pain management (OR 0.67, 95% CI 0.52–0.85; p = 0.001), staff responsiveness (OR 0.68, 95% CI 0.53–0.87; p = 0.002), and global rating (OR 0.59, 95% CI 0.42–0.82; p = 0.002), and significantly higher odds of top-box scoring in discharge information (OR 2.15, 95% CI 1.45–3.18; p < 0.001) than cranial patients. Similarly, brain tumor cases were associated with significantly higher odds of top-box scoring in communication with doctors (OR 1.46, 95% CI 1.01–2.12; p = 0.04), pain management (OR 1.81, 95% CI 1.29–2.55; p < 0.001), staff responsiveness (OR 1.88, 95% CI 1.33–2.66; p < 0.001), and global rating (OR 2.00, 95% CI 1.26–3.17; p = 0.003) compared with degenerative spine cases.


Significant differences in patient-reported experience with hospital care exist across different cranial and spine surgery patient populations. Overall, spinal patients, particularly those with degenerative spine disease, rated their health and their hospital experience lower relative to cranial patients. Identifying weaker areas of hospital performance in target populations can stimulate quality initiatives that aim to increase the overall hospital score.