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Clinical outcomes of surgery for disc herniation and spinal stenosis are variable. Surveys show that postoperative management is inconsistent; spinal surgeons and their patients are uncertain about what best to do post-operatively. Following a focused literature review, a patient-centred, evidence-based booklet was developed, which aims to reduce uncertainty, guide post-operative management and facilitate recovery. Initial peer and patient evaluations were encouraging and the booklet Your back operation (www.tso.co.uk/bookshop) is currently factored into a trial investigating the post-operative management of spinal patients.

To date, 80 patients have been recruited into the study of which 34 have been randomised to receive the booklet. At 6 months post-surgery all of these patients are requested to complete a questionnaire on the booklet. This questionnaire contained forced-choice questions on readability, style, information level, believability, length, content and helpfulness. Further open questions concern the booklet’s messages, giving patients the opportunity to identify anything they did not like or understand, voice any concerns that were not covered, and say if they thought the booklet would change what they did after surgery. Finally, they were asked their overall rating of the booklet on a scale from 1 to 10.

Feedback is very positive. The average overall rating of the booklet was 8.6/10. Over 80% found it easy to read, interesting, and of appropriate length. Over 80% also stated they had learnt new and helpful information. All subjects stated that they would recommend the booklet to a friend, and the majority stated that they frequently referred to the booklet. The predominant messages received and understood by the patients were related to the safe benefits of early activation and return to normal activities.

The results show that spinal surgery patients appreciate evidence-based information in booklet form, and suggest that this booklet may be an important adjunct to post-operative management of spinal patients.

Correspondence should be addressed to: Sue Woodward, Secreteriat, Britspine, Vale Clinic, Hensol Park, Vale of Glamorgan, CF72 8JY Wales.