Study: Poor quality of life after day surgery linked to inadequate health literacy

April 26 (UPI) — A lack of understanding health literature and instructions among patients undergoing day surgery, or out-patient surgery, has been linked to poorer postoperative recovery and health-related quality of life in a study in Sweden.

Researchers at Örebro University studied data from a previous clinical trial composed of 704 patients who underwent outpatient surgery from October 2015 to July 2016. Their findings were published this week in the Journal of American Media Surgery.

“In the last decades, more and more surgical procedures have been performed as day surgery,” the researchers wrote. “Patients are spending less time in the hospital, and this places greater demands on the patients and their relatives. Most of the recovery process after surgery occurs at home without direct supervision from health care professionals.”

In the study, functional health literacy was defined as an individual’s capacity to gain access to and understand and use information in ways to promote and maintain good health, quality of recovery and health-related quality of life.

Researchers believe this is the first study that has examined whether there is an association between postoperative recovery and functional health literacy in patients undergoing day surgery.

The researchers note that previous studies have raised concerns about health literacy and its consequences for patients and the overall health economy.

In the study, 60.6 percent of patients reported sufficient functional health literacy, 31.7 patients had problematic functional health literacy and 7.7 percent had inadequate functional health literacy.

The Swedish web version of Quality of Recovery was used. The poor recovery score among participants with inadequate literacy was 37.2 and 22.9 for problematic.The group with sufficient literacy had a score of 17.7.

Also, patients with inadequate functional health literacy had a lower health-related quality of life in terms of physical function, bodily pain, vitality, social functioning, mental health and physical aspects.

The researchers note that they did not have data on education or socioeconomic status, nor were they aware of how many can speak and read Swedish, which would also pose a challenge to understanding healthcare information, and will require further research.

“Health literacy is a relevant factor to consider for optimizing postoperative recovery in patients undergoing day surgery,” the researchers conclude.