As compensation transitions from a fee-for-service to pay-for-performance healthcare model, providers must prioritize patient-centered experiences. Here, the authors’ primary aim was to identify predictors of patient dissatisfaction at 1 and 2 years after lumbar surgery.
The Michigan Spine Surgery Improvement Collaborative (MSSIC) was queried for all lumbar operations at the 1- and 2-year follow-ups. Predictors of patients’ postoperative contentment were identified per the North American Spine Surgery (NASS) Patient Satisfaction Index, wherein satisfied patients were assigned a score of 1 (“the treatment met my expectations”) or 2 (“I did not improve as much as I had hoped, but I would undergo the same treatment for the same outcome”) and unsatisfied patients were assigned a score of 3 (“I did not improve as much as I had hoped, and I would not undergo the same treatment for the same outcome”) or 4 (“I am the same or worse than before treatment”). Multivariable Poisson generalized estimating equation models were used to report adjusted risk ratios (RRadj).
Among 5390 patients with a 1-year follow-up, 22% reported dissatisfaction postoperatively. Dissatisfaction was predicted by higher body mass index (RRadj =1.07, p < 0.001), African American race compared to white (RRadj = 1.51, p < 0.001), education level less than high school graduation compared to a high school diploma or equivalent (RRadj = 1.25, p = 0.008), smoking (RRadj = 1.34, p < 0.001), daily preoperative opioid use > 6 months (RRadj = 1.22, p < 0.001), depression (RRadj = 1.31, p < 0.001), symptom duration > 1 year (RRadj = 1.32, p < 0.001), previous spine surgery (RRadj = 1.32, p < 0.001), and higher baseline numeric rating scale (NRS)–back pain score (RRadj = 1.04, p = 0.002). Conversely, an education level higher than high school graduation, independent ambulation (RRadj = 0.90, p = 0.039), higher baseline NRS–leg pain score (RRadj = 0.97, p = 0.013), and fusion surgery (RRadj = 0.88, p = 0.014) decreased dissatisfaction.
Among 2776 patients with a 2-year follow-up, 22% reported dissatisfaction postoperatively. Dissatisfaction was predicted by a non-white race, current smoking (RRadj = 1.26, p = 0.004), depression (RRadj = 1.34, p < 0.001), symptom duration > 1 year (RRadj = 1.47, p < 0.001), previous spine surgery (RRadj = 1.28, p < 0.001), and higher baseline NRS–back pain score (RRadj = 1.06, p = 0.003). Conversely, at least some college education (RRadj = 0.87, p = 0.035) decreased the risk of dissatisfaction.
Both comorbid conditions and socioeconomic circumstances must be considered in counseling patients on postoperative expectations. After race, symptom duration was the strongest predictor of dissatisfaction; thus, patient-centered measures must be prioritized. These findings should serve as a tool for surgeons to identify at-risk populations that may need more attention regarding effective communication and additional preoperative counseling to address potential barriers unique to their situation.