Matthew P Miller, Saeed Arefanian, MD, Jeffrey A Blatnik, MD. Washington University School of Medicine
Introduction: As internet access improves, patient self-education is increasing. However, patient surgical background, e-literacy and media exposure influences how and what information patients search for on-line. This impacts patient concern, healthcare decisions and subsequent patient-physician interactions. The purpose of this study is to characterize patient use of the internet and understand the extent and impact of searching for information regarding surgical mesh.
Methods: The target population included patients in pre-operative consult for hernia repair with mesh. A total of 30 patients were enrolled. Patients took surveys before and after consult with the surgeon. The first survey evaluated internet use, mesh related research completed, and the impact on patient opinions/decisions. The second survey evaluated the impact internet research had on the dialogue and interaction during the consult. The patient was provided an optional reference website to use to help further patient research.
Results: The average age of the patients was 58.7 years, half of whom had prior surgery with surgical mesh. The average impression on surgical mesh was neutral, 5.1 out of 10 (0 negative, 10 positive). Nineteen patients used the internet or other media as a primary source of information. Twenty-one patients felt the need for more information about mesh before meeting the surgeon. Twenty-two patients felt more knowledgeable afterward and 12 had questions that remained.
Patients with negative feelings about mesh had significantly more media exposure in comparison to those with neutral or positive feelings (p=0.04), and they were more likely to have researched surgical mesh because of media influence (p= 0.03). This group had the highest rate of self-disclosed knowledge on mesh risks and the least knowledge about benefits (p= 0.01). Patients who had prior surgery without complication had the best impressions in comparison to those who had surgery with complications or no surgery (p= 0.02). The latter two groups were significantly more likely to do further research using the internet (p= 0.05).
Conclusions: Patients’ knowledge and attitudes are influenced by the information they are exposed to. Patients that have a negative view of surgical mesh are associated with increased exposure to internet and media and are likely to continue internet research following their appointment. Through understanding what and how information is sought and the potential impact on patient self-education, medical professionals are better able to educate the patient and ultimately prepare them for surgery.
Presented at the SAGES 2017 Annual Meeting in Houston, TX.
Abstract ID: 94631
Program Number: S096
Presentation Session: Inquinal and Ventral Hernia
Presentation Type: Podium