Research aims to prepare patients for surgery

A new research project led by academics at the University of East Anglia and specialists at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) aims to reduce anxiety felt by patients facing bowel surgery.

Each year 50,000 patients undergo colorectal surgery within the NHS, of which NNUH carries out around 480 planned major operations. The 18-month PREPARE study will focus on evaluating the information given to patients before their surgery and the team's recommendations of best practice will be shared across the NHS. This research also has the potential to lead to a reduction in the time patients need to spend in hospital, and to more cost-effective use of resources.

The research team includes Dr Nicola Spalding, Dr Fiona Poland and Dr Sheila Gregory at the Health and Social Science Research Institute, UEA, and consultant surgeon Kevin Sargen and specialist nurse Jane McCulloch at the Colorectal Unit, Surgical Directorate, NNUH. Penny Vicary, patient involvement representative, is providing essential insights into how the project engages with lay and patient priorities. They will carry out observations, questionnaires, interviews and focus groups with staff and patients to highlight good practice and ways to improve patient information.

Dr Spalding said: “Improving patient education has great potential to impact positively on patients’ experience of their health care by increasing their empowerment, their involvement in their own care, their understanding of what will happen during their care and so helping lower levels of anxiety. This may, in turn, reduce how long patients stay in hospitals after operations and the level of resources they use in the recovery period. The approach being used here will help patients, carers and staff to contribute their ideas for improving our understanding of what patients need to know before surgery.”

The project, which runs until July 2011, has received funding of £207,642 from the NHS National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Research for Patient Benefit Programme.

Tuesday 16th of February 2010 09:00:31 AM