Study shows that educating patients before surgery does not save physio time

Educating patients before they have shoulder surgery costs more than it saves in reduced physiotherapy time after surgery, a study has found.


Study: pre-operative education classes did not reduce number of appointments. Photo © Jess Hurd

A team at Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Trust, in Surrey, introduced an educational talk as part of the pre-operative assessment for patients due to receive shoulder surgery. The talk incorporated a review of shoulder anatomy and biomechanics, the types of shoulder surgery and a comprehensive look at post-operative recovery.

Almost 250 patients attended the classes, which were run by a band 7 physio. The study found that, compared with patients who did not go to class, as a group total the class attendees accessed just 46 fewer hours of post-operative physiotherapy time.

But 116 hours of physiotherapists’ time had been used to run the education classes, leaving researchers to conclude that the classes were not value for money.

Clinical specialist physiotherapist Paul Sealey, who oversaw the research, said: ‘The demand on physiotherapy services is ever-increasing and trusts need to establish methods of meeting the demands of the patients while not sacrificing quality of care.

‘The introduction of a pre-operative education class failed to show any reduction in physiotherapy appointments, but required the use of four appointments per week of a band 7 physiotherapist’s time.

‘The introduction of this class offered no benefits in waiting times and is unlikely to have altered patient outcomes.’

For more information about the study email


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