A new scoping review aims to describe the range and nature of available research regarding sources of information patients access to inform their decisions about elective surgery.

The authors argue in order to improve patient health literacy, more needs to be known regarding whether patients are utilising any of the information available to them in making health decisions regarding elective surgery, or what information sources are most readily accessed and valued.

They found face-to-face exchanges were the most likely source of information prior to elective surgery (59.3%), followed by printed information (55.6%), e-learning (51.9%) and multimedia (14.8%).

The face-to-face category included information provided by the physician, general practitioners, specialists, and family and friends.

Printed information included brochures and pamphlets, e-learning consisted of internet sites or videos and the use of multimedia included different mixed media format.

The authors concluded there is ‘considerable variability’ regarding the types of information patients use in their decision to undergo elective surgery.

Face-to-face interaction raises the question that information could be incomplete and/or biased, and dependent on what their health provider knew or chose to tell them.


Atlas A, Milanese S, Grimmer K, et al

Sources of information used by patients prior to elective surgery: a scoping review

BMJ Open 2019;9:e023080. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2018-023080