Effect on clinical outcomes of patient pain expectancies and preoperative Mental Component Summary scores from the 36-Item Short Form Health Survey following anterior cervical discectomy and fusion

Frances A Carr, Kyle M Healy, Alan T Villavicencio, E Lee Nelson, Alexander Mason, Sigita Burneikiene, Theresa D Hernández
Journal of Neurosurgery. Spine 2011, 15 (5): 486-90

OBJECT: The primary purpose of this study was to analyze what effect preoperative patient expectations and 36-Item Short Form Health Survey (SF-36) Mental Component Summary (MCS) scores have on clinical outcomes. To the authors' knowledge, there are no prospective studies that have examined the effects of both preoperative pain expectations and SF-36 MCS scores on clinical outcomes and satisfaction with results following anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF).

METHODS: This study analyzed 79 patients (38 men, 41 women) undergoing 1- to 3-level ACDF surgery. Preoperatively, patients were divided into 2 groups for the expectation analyses: patients who expected complete resolution of pain postoperatively (44 total) and those who expected some residual pain (35 total) postoperatively. Preoperative SF-36 MCS scores were used to test the possible effects of mental health on clinical outcomes and satisfaction. Clinical outcomes were evaluated using visual analog scales (VASs) for neck/arm pain, Neck Disability Index (NDI), SF-36 Physical Component Summary (PCS)/MCS, and patient satisfaction with results scales. The mean follow-up duration was 38.8 months (range 7-59 months).

RESULTS: All postoperative measures depicted significant improvement overall. Patients who expected no pain reported lower postoperative neck/arm pain scores (p < 0.02), higher SF-36 MCS scores (p = 0.04), and higher satisfaction with results scores (p = 0.01) compared with patients who expected some pain, after controlling for their respective preoperative scores. Higher preoperative SF-36 MCS scores predicted significantly lower postoperative neck pain (p = 0.003) and NDI (p = 0.004) scores, as well as higher postoperative SF-36 PCS (p = 0.002), SF-36 MCS (p = 0.001), and satisfaction (p = 0.03) scores, after controlling for their respective preoperative scores.

CONCLUSIONS: Patients who expected no pain postoperatively reported better scores on the nonstandardized outcome measure scales (VAS arm/neck, satisfaction with results), and higher SF-36 MCS scores. Higher preoperative MCS scores were related to better overall (standardized and nonstandardized) clinical outcomes (VAS neck, NDI, SF-36 PCS/MCS, and satisfaction with results). The results suggest that optimism in patients' expectations as well as mental well-being are related to improved clinical outcomes and higher patient satisfaction.

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