A systematic review of qualitative studies: Patients' experiences of preoperative communication

Chung Yee Zenobia Chan, Carmen Kan, Patrick Lee, Isabel Chan, Joyce Lam

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Aim. This article reports on a systematic review of qualitative studies on patients' experiences of preoperative communication with healthcare professionals. Background. Communication is critical for providing efficient care to patients. It is especially important for patients waiting for surgery, as they experience a variety of unknowns before the procedure. Through communication with healthcare professionals, patients gain a better understanding of the surgery and the issues related to their life after the surgery. Thus, the preoperative communication between healthcare professionals and patients is a significant topic for review. Design. Systematic review. Methods. Six electronic databases (CINAHL, Cochrane Library, Embase, Medline, PsycINFO and PUBMED) were systematically searched. Qualitative studies of patients' experiences before surgery were purposely selected for synthesis. Key themes and concepts were extracted and synthesised. Results. Eleven studies on patients' experiences before surgery were identified. Four main themes relating to patients' experiences of preoperative communication with healthcare professionals were identified from all 11 articles. These themes were as follows: need for information, involving relatives, need for control and healthcare professionalism. Conclusions. Patients' experience of preoperative communication with healthcare professionals showed different needs and feelings for communication. Healthcare professionals need to have adequate knowledge, skills and positive attitudes to help patients through the journey of this critical life event. Relevance to clinical practice. Patients' sensitivity and their different needs for communication may contribute to future advances in the training of healthcare professionals with regard to their communication knowledge and skills. They may also affect the allocation of resources for patients waiting for surgery and educating related professionals about their knowledge and skills of communication and their attitudes. Adequate space for meeting simultaneously with patients and their relatives and extra human resources and tools for the assessment of individuals' need for communication are also required.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)812-824
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Issue number5-6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2012


  • Communication
  • Nurses
  • Nursing
  • Patients' experience
  • Preoperative

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)

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