All Publications

  • Can Patients Forecast Their Postoperative Disability and Pain? Clinical orthopaedics and related research Alokozai, A., Eppler, S. L., Lu, L. Y., Sheikholeslami, N., Kamal, R. N. 2019; 477 (3): 635–43


    BACKGROUND: Forecasting is a construct in which experiences and beliefs inform a projection of future outcomes. Current efforts to predict postoperative patient-reported outcome measures such as risk-stratifying models, focus on studying patient, surgeon, or facility variables without considering the mindset of the patient. There is no evidence assessing the association of a patient's forecasted postoperative disability with realized postoperative disability. Patient-forecasted disability could potentially be used as a tool to predict postoperative disability.QUESTIONS/PURPOSES: (1) Do patient-forecasted disability and pain correlate with patient-realized disability and pain after hand surgery? (2) What other factors are associated with patient ability to forecast disability and pain?METHODS: We completed a prospective, longitudinal study to assess the association between forecasted and realized postoperative pain and disability as a predictive tool. One hundred eighteen patients of one hand/upper extremity surgeon were recruited from November 2016 to February 2018. Inclusion criteria for the study were patients undergoing hand or upper extremity surgery, older than 18 years of age, and English fluency and literacy. We enrolled 118 patients; 32 patients (27%) dropped out as a result of incomplete postoperative questionnaires. The total number of patients eligible was not tracked. Eighty-six patients completed the preoperative and postoperative questionnaires. Exclusion criteria included patients unable to give informed consent, children, patients with dementia, and nonEnglish speakers. Before surgery, patients completed a questionnaire that asked them to forecast their upper extremity disability (DASH [the shortened Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand] [QuickDASH]) and pain VAS (pain from 0 to 10) for 2 weeks after their procedure. The questionnaire also queried the following psychologic factors as explanatory variables, in addition to other demographic and socioeconomic variables: the General Self Efficacy Scale, the Pain Catastrophizing Scale, and the Patient Health Questionnaire Depression Scale. At the 2-week followup appointment, patients completed the QuickDASH and pain VAS to assess their realized disability and pain scores. Bivariate analysis was used to test the association of forecasted and realized disability and pain reporting Pearson correlation coefficients. Unpaired t-tests were performed to test the association of demographic variables (for example, men vs women) and the association of forecasted and realized disability and pain levels. One-way analysis of variance was used for variables with multiple groups (for example, annual salary and ethnicity). All p values < 0.05 were considered statistically significant.RESULTS: Forecasted postoperative disability was moderately correlated with realized postoperative disability (r = 0.59; p < 0.001). Forecasted pain was weakly correlated with realized postoperative pain (r = 0.28; p = 0.011). A total of 47% of patients (n = 40) were able to predict their disability score within the MCID of their realized disability score. Symptoms of depression also correlated with increased realized postoperative disability (r = 0.37; p < 0.001) and increased realized postoperative pain (r = 0.42; p < 0.001). Catastrophic thinking was correlated with increased realized postoperative pain (r = 0.31; p = 0.004). Patients with symptoms of depression realized greater pain postoperatively than what they forecasted preoperatively (r = -0.24; p = 0.028), but there was no association between symptoms of depression and patients' ability to forecast disability (r = 0.2; p = 0.058). Patient age was associated with a patient's ability to forecast disability (r = .27; p = 0.011). Catastrophic thinking, self-efficacy, and number of prior surgical procedures were not associated with a patient's ability to forecast their postoperative disability or pain.CONCLUSIONS: Patients undergoing hand surgery can moderately forecast their postoperative disability. Surgeons can use forecasted disability to identify patients who may experience greater disability compared with benchmarks, for example, forecast and experience high QuickDASH scores after surgery, and inform preoperative discussions and interventions focused on expectation management, resilience, and mindset.LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Level III, prognostic study.

    View details for PubMedID 30762696

  • The Feasibility and Usability of a Ranking Tool to Elicit Patient Preferences for the Treatment of Trigger Finger. The Journal of hand surgery Shapiro, L. M., Eppler, S. L., Kamal, R. N. 2019


    PURPOSE: Shared decision making is an approach where physicians and patients collaborate to make decisions based on patient values. This requires eliciting patients' preferences for each treatment attribute before making decisions; a structured process for preference elicitation does not exist in hand surgery. We tested the feasibility and usability of a ranking tool to elicit patient preferences for the treatment of trigger finger. We hypothesized that the tool would be usable and feasible at the point of care.METHODS: Thirty patients with a trigger finger without prior treatment were recruited from a hand surgery clinic. A preference elicitation tool was created that presented 3 treatment options(surgical release, injection, and therapy and orthosis) and described attributes of each treatment extracted from literature review (eg, success rate, complications). We presented these attributes to patients using the tool and patients ranked the relative importance (preference)of these attributes to aid in their decision making. The System Usability Scale and tool completion time were used to evaluate usability and feasibility, respectively.RESULTS: The tool demonstrated excellent usability (System Usability Scale: 88.7). The mean completion time was 3.05 minutes. Five (16.7%) patients chose surgery, 20 (66.7%) chose an injection, and 5 (16.7%) chose therapy and orthosis. Patients ranked treatment success and cost as the most and least important attributes, respectively. Twenty-nine (96.7%) patients were very to extremely satisfied with the tool.CONCLUSIONS: A preference elicitation tool for patients to rank treatment attributes by relative importance is feasible and usable at the point of care. A structured process for preference elicitation ensures that patients understand the trade-offs between choices and can assist physicians in aligning treatment decisions with patient preferences.CLINICAL RELEVANCE: A ranking tool is a simple, structured process physicians can use to elicit preferences during shared decision making and highlight trade-offs between treatment options to inform treatment choices.

    View details for PubMedID 30797655

  • Variations in Utilization of Carpal Tunnel Release Among Medicaid Beneficiaries. The Journal of hand surgery Zhuang, T., Eppler, S. L., Kamal, R. N. 2018


    PURPOSE: To evaluate the null hypothesis that Medicaid patients receive carpal tunnel release (CTR) at the same time interval from diagnosis as do patients with Medicare Advantage or private insurance.METHODS: We conducted a retrospective review using a database containing claims records from 2007 to 2016. The cohort consisted of patient records with a diagnosis code of carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) and a procedural code for CTR within 3 years of diagnosis. We stratified patients into 3 groups by insurance type (Medicaid managed care, Medicare Advantage, and private) for an analysis of the time from diagnosis until surgery and use of preoperative electrodiagnostic testing.RESULTS: Of all patients who received CTR within 3 years of diagnosis, Medicaid patients experienced longer intervals from CTS diagnosis to CTR compared with Medicare Advantage and privately insured patients (median, 99 days vs 65 and 62 days, respectively). The Medicaid cohort was significantly less likely to receive CTR within 1 year of diagnosis compared with the Medicare Advantage cohort (adjusted odds ratio [OR]= 0.54) or within 6 months of diagnosis compared with the privately insured cohort (adjusted OR= 0.61). Those in the Medicaid cohort were less likely to receive electromyography and nerve conduction studies within 9 months before surgery compared with their Medicare Advantage (adjusted OR= 0.43) and privately insured (adjusted OR= 0.41) counterparts. These effects were statistically significant after accounting for age, sex, region, and Charlson comorbidity index.CONCLUSIONS: Medicaid managed care patients experience longer times from diagnosis to surgery compared with Medicare Advantage or privately insured patients in this large administrative claims database. Similar variation exists in the use of electrodiagnostic testing based on insurance type.CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Medicaid patients may experience barriers to CTS care, such as delays from diagnosis to surgery and reduced use of electrodiagnostic testing.

    View details for PubMedID 30579689

  • The Role of Patient Research in Patient Trust in Their Physician. The Journal of hand surgery Lu, L. Y., Sheikholeslami, N., Alokozai, A., Eppler, S. L., Kamal, R. N. 2018


    PURPOSE: Trust is foundational to the patient-physician relationship. However, there is limited information on the patient characteristics and behaviors that are related to patient trust. We investigated whether the time patients spend researching their physician and/or symptoms before a clinic visit was correlated with patient trust in their hand surgeon.METHODS: We conducted a prospective study of new patients (n= 134) who presented to a hand surgery clinic. We tested the null hypothesis that time spent researching the physician or symptom does not correlate with physician trust. Secondarily, we tested the association of a maximizing personality (a decision-making personality type defined as one who exhaustively searches for the "best option" as opposed to a "satisficer" who settles for the "good enough" decision) with time spent researching the hand surgeon and patient symptoms, general self-efficacy (one's ability tomanage adversity), and patient trust. Patients completed a questionnaire assessing demographics, patient researching behavior, general self-efficacy (GSE-6), maximizing personality(Maximization Short Form), and physician trust (Trust in Physician Form).RESULTS: The average age of our cohort was 50 ± 17 years, and men and women were equally represented. Patients spent more time researching their symptoms (median, 60 min; range, 5-1,201 min) than they did researching their physician (median, 20 min; range, 1-1,201 min). There was no correlation between time spent by patients seeking information on their hand surgeon and/or symptoms with patient trust in their physician. However, female patients were significantly more trusting of their physician than male patients.CONCLUSIONS: Most patients research their symptoms before clinic, whereas about half research their physicians before meeting them. Time spent seeking information before clinic was not correlated with patient trust in their physician. However, in our study, female patients were more likely to trust their hand surgeon than male patients. Thus, modifying physician behavior rather than patient characteristics may be a stronger driver of patient trust.TYPE OF STUDY/LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Prognostic IV.

    View details for PubMedID 30366736

  • Defining Quality in Hand Surgery From the Patient'sPerspective: A Qualitative Analysis. The Journal of hand surgery Eppler, S. L., Kakar, S., Sheikholeslami, N., Sun, B., Pennell, H., Kamal, R. N. 2018


    PURPOSE: Quality measures are used to evaluate health care delivery. They are traditionally developed from the physician and health system viewpoint. This approach can lead to quality measures that promote care that may be misaligned with patient values and preferences. We completed an exploratory, qualitative study to identify how patients with hand problems define high-quality care. Our purpose was to develop a better understanding of the surgery and recovery experience of hand surgery patients, specifically focusing on knowledge gaps, experience, and the surgical process.METHODS: A steering committee (n= 10) of patients who had previously undergone hand surgery reviewed and revised an open-ended survey. Ninety-nine patients who had undergone hand surgery at 2 tertiary care institutions completed the open-ended, structured questionnaire during their 6- to 8-week postoperative clinic visit. Two reviewers completed a thematic analysis to generate subcodes and codes to identify themes in high-quality care from the patient's perspective.RESULTS: We identified 4 themes of high-quality care: (1) Being prepared and informed for the process of surgery, (2) Regaining hand function without pain or complication, (3) Patients and caregivers negotiating the physical and psychological challenges of recovery, and (4) Financial and logistical burdens of undergoing hand surgery.CONCLUSIONS: Multiple areas that patients identify as representing high-quality care are not reflected in current quality measures for hand surgery. The patient-derived themes of high-quality care can inform future patient-centered quality measure development.CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Efforts to improve health care delivery may have the greatest impact by addressing areas of care that are most valued by patients. Such areas include patient education, system navigation, the recovery process, and cost.

    View details for PubMedID 30031599

  • Patient Perceptions Correlate Weakly With Observed Patient Involvement in Decision-making in Orthopaedic Surgery. Clinical orthopaedics and related research Mertz, K., Eppler, S., Yao, J., Amanatullah, D. F., Chou, L., Wood, K. B., Safran, M., Steffner, R., Gardner, M., Kamal, R. 2018


    BACKGROUND: Shared decision-making between patients and physicians involves educating the patient, providing options, eliciting patient preferences, and reaching agreement on a decision. There are different ways to measure shared decision-making, including patient involvement, but there is no consensus on the best approach. In other fields, there have been varying relationships between patient-perceived involvement and observed patient involvement in shared decision-making. The relationship between observed and patient-perceived patient involvement in decision-making has not been studied in orthopaedic surgery.QUESTIONS/PURPOSES: (1) Does patient-perceived involvement correlate with observed measurements of patient involvement in decision-making in orthopaedic surgery? (2) Are patient demographics associated with perceived and observed measurements of patient involvement in decision-making?METHODS: We performed a prospective, observational study to compare observed and perceived patient involvement in new patient consultations for eight orthopaedic surgeons in subspecialties including hand/upper extremity, total joint arthroplasty, spine, sports, trauma, foot and ankle, and tumor. We enrolled 117 English-literate patients 18 years or older over an enrollment period of 2 months. A member of the research team assessed observed patient involvement during a consultation with the Observing Patient Involvement in Decision-Making (OPTION) instrument (scaled 1-100 with higher scores representing greater involvement). After the consultation, we asked patients to complete a questionnaire with demographic information including age, sex, race, education, income, marital status, employment status, and injury type. Patients also completed the Perceived Involvement in Care Scale (PICS), which measures patient-perceived involvement (scaled 1-13 with higher scores representing greater involvement). Both instruments are validated in multiple studies in various specialties and the physicians were blinded to the instruments used. We assessed the correlation between observed and patient-perceived involvement as well as tested the association between patient demographics and patient involvement scores.RESULTS: There was weak correlation between observed involvement (OPTION) and patient-perceived involvement (PICS) (r = 0.37, p < 0.01) in decision-making (mean OPTION, 28.7, SD 7.7; mean PICS, 8.43, SD 2.3). We found a low degree of observed patient involvement despite a moderate to high degree of perceived involvement. No patient demographic factor had a significant association with patient involvement.CONCLUSIONS: Further work is needed to identify the best method for evaluating patient involvement in decision-making in the setting of discordance between observed and patient-perceived measurements. Knowing whether it is necessary for (1) actual observable patient involvement to occur; or (2) a patient to simply believe they are involved in their care can inform physicians on the best way to improve shared decision-making in their practice.LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Level II, therapeutic study.

    View details for PubMedID 29965894

  • Complication rates by surgeon type after open treatment of distal radius fractures. European journal of orthopaedic surgery & traumatology : orthopedie traumatologie Truntzer, J., Mertz, K., Eppler, S., Li, K., Gardner, M., Kamal, R. 2018


    BACKGROUND: In distal radius fracture repair, complications often lead to reoperation and increased cost. We examined the trends and complications in open reduction internal fixation of distal radius fractures across hand specialist and non-hand specialist surgeons.METHODS: We examined claims data from the Humana administrative claims database between 2007 and 2016. International Classification of Disease, 9th Edition and Current Procedural Terminology codes were searched related to distal radius fractures repaired by open reduction internal fixation. Patients were filtered based on initial treatment by a hand specialty or non-hand specialty surgeon. Complications were reported within 1year of surgical treatment in the following distinct categories: non-union, malunion, extensor/flexor tendon repair, CRPS, infection. Descriptive statistics were reported.RESULTS: Hand specialists accounted for 182 procedures compared with 7708 procedures by non-hand specialty orthopaedic or general surgeons. There was an increase in the total number of procedures performed by hand specialists across the years of study, with a higher percentage of intra-articular cases completed by hand specialists (80.7%) compared to non-hand specialists (70.1%). Overall, the complication rates of hand specialists (6.5%) were higher than that of non-specialists (4.7%).CONCLUSIONS: The results of this study demonstrate a small difference in overall complications for open reduction internal fixation of distal radius fractures by hand specialists in comparison to non-specialists despite treating a higher percentage of intra-articular fractures. Future work controlling for factors unaccounted for in claims-based analyses, such as fracture complexity, patient comorbidities, and surgeon factors are needed.TYPE OF STUDY/LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Therapeutic IV.

    View details for PubMedID 29922979

  • Patients Should Define Value in Health Care: A Conceptual Framework. The Journal of hand surgery Kamal, R. N., Lindsay, S. E., Eppler, S. L. 2018


    The main tenet of value-based health care is delivering high-quality care that is centered on the patient, improving health, and minimizing cost. Collaborative decision-making frameworks have been developed to help facilitate delivering care based on patient preferences (patient-centered care). The current value-based health care model, however, focuses on improving population health and overlooks the individuality of patients and their preferences for care. We highlight the importance of eliciting patient preferences in collaborative decision making and describe a conceptual framework that incorporates individual patients' preferences when defining value.

    View details for PubMedID 29754755