Inadequate Health Literacy Associated with Poorer Postoperative Recovery for Patients Undergoing Day Surgery

Bottom Line: Lower health literacy in patients undergoing day surgery was associated with poorer postoperative recovery and health-related quality of life two weeks following surgery.

Why The Research Is Interesting: More and more surgical procedures are performed as day surgery and that puts demands on patients to manage their own recovery at home according to instructions provided to them.

Who and When: 704 patients who underwent day surgery in Sweden from October 2015 to July 2016

What (Study Measures): Functional health literacy (FHL; defined as an individual’s capacity to gain access to and to understand and use information in ways to promote and maintain good health) (exposure); quality of recovery, health-related quality of life, health care contacts (outcomes)

How (Study Design): This observational study was a secondary analysis of a randomized clinical trial. Researchers were not intervening for purposes of the study and cannot control all the natural differences that could explain the study findings.

Authors: Maria Halleberg Nyman, Ph.D., Orebro University, Orebro, Sweden and coauthors


Study Limitations: The researchers did not know if the patients experienced any generalized anxiety disorder or depression preoperatively, which may have affected certain findings.

Study Conclusions: Identifying patients with low health literacy and addressing their specific needs are important factors to consider to optimize postoperative recovery in day-surgery patients.

Related material: The commentary, “Making the Case for Importance of Health Literacy in the Surgical Population,” by Kamran Idrees, M.D., M.S.C.I., M.M.H.C., Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, and coauthors is also available on the For The Media website.

For more details and to read the full study, please visit the For The Media website.