OBJECTIVES - This study aims to evaluate the change in comprehension of diagnoses, treatment plans, and discharge instructions after orthopaedic trauma patients are given an informational document that includes pictorial representations at the time of discharge. It also seeks to determine if the intervention has a greater impact on patients with lower educational backgrounds.
DESIGN - Prospective comparative cohort study.
SETTING - Academic level 1 trauma center.
PATIENTS - From April to December 2011, 529 orthopaedic trauma patients with an operatively fixed isolated fracture were eligible for inclusion. Two hundred ninety-nine eligible questionnaires were collected (56.5% response rate).
INTERVENTION - Patients were administered a questionnaire regarding their treatment and discharge instructions during their first postoperative clinic visit before being seen by a physician. The questionnaire included demographic information and questions regarding: (1) which bone was fractured, (2) type of implanted fixation, (3) weight-bearing status, (4) expected recovery time, and (5) need for deep vein thrombosis prophylaxis. All patients had received verbal instructions outlining this information at postoperative hospital discharge. During the second half of the study, patients were given an additional informational sheet with both text and pictorial representations at discharge. Multivariable log-binomial regression analyses were used to examine the impact of this intervention.
RESULTS - One hundred forty-six patients were given only the standard discharge instructions, whereas 153 patients were also administered the additional information document. The mean score for patients who received the intervention was 2.90 (out of 5) compared with the mean score of 2.54 for patients who did not receive the intervention (P = 0.013). Patients who received the intervention were 1.3 times more likely to know which bone was fractured (P = 0.007) and 1.1 times more likely to be able to correctly name the medication(s) they were prescribed for deep vein thrombosis prophylaxis (P = 0.03).
CONCLUSIONS - Overall performance on comprehension questionnaires in orthopaedic trauma patients was significantly improved via a text and pictorial intervention. The intervention did not preferentially aid patients with lower education backgrounds. Future studies should evaluate long-term postoperative results to determine if improved patient comprehension has an effect on surgical outcomes and patient satisfaction.