Document Type



Medicine and Health Sciences


Study Design Systematic review.

Objective To examine the relationship between the patient's preoperative expectations and short-term postoperative satisfaction and functional outcome in lumbar spine surgery.

Methods The Medline, Embase, and Cochrane databases were queried using a predefined search algorithm to identify all lumbar spine studies analyzing the influence of preoperative expectations on postoperative satisfaction and functional outcome. Two independent reviewers and a third independent mediator reviewed the literature and performed study screening, selection, methodological assessment, and data extraction using an objective protocol.

Results Of 444 studies identified, 13 met the inclusion criteria. Methodological quality scores ranged from 59 to 100% with the greatest variability in defining patient characteristics and the methods of assessing patient expectations. Patient expectations were assessed in 22 areas, most frequently back and leg pain expectations and general expectations. Functional outcome was assessed by 13 tools; the most common were the visual analog scale, Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), and Short Form Health Survey (SF-36). Positive expectations for symptomatology, activity, general health, and recovery correlated with satisfaction. General expectations correlated with higher SF-36 Physical Subcomponent scores, better global function, and lower ODI outcome. Conclusions on the influence of the expectations for pain were limited due to the study heterogeneity, but the evidence suggests a positive correlation between the expectation and outcome for back and leg pain.

Conclusions Positive expectations correlated significantly with short-term postoperative satisfaction and functional outcome, including higher SF-36 scores, earlier return to work, and decreased ODI scores. Future expectation-based investigations will benefit from implementation of the standardized methods of expectation, satisfaction, and outcome analysis discussed herein.


Originally published in : Global Spine J. 2015 Oct; 5(5): 436–452. Published online 2015 May 6. doi: 10.1055/s-0035-1551650 PMCID: PMC4577329