The engaged patient: Patient activation can predict satisfaction with surgical treatment of lumbar and cervical spine disorders

Andrew B. Harris, Floreana Kebaish, Lee H. Riley, Khaled M. Kebaish, Richard L. Skolasky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE Care satisfaction is an important metric to health systems and payers. Patient activation is a hierarchical construct following 4 stages: 1) having a belief that taking an active role in their care is important, 2) having knowledge and skills to manage their condition, 3) having the confidence to make necessary behavioral changes, and 4) having an ability to maintain those changes in times of stress. The authors hypothesized that patients with a high level of activation, measured using the Patient Activation Measure (PAM), will be more engaged in their care and, therefore, will be more likely to be satisfied with the results of their surgical treatment. METHODS Using a prospectively collected registry at a multiprovider university practice, the authors examined patients who underwent elective surgery (n = 257) for cervical or lumbar spinal disorders. Patients were assessed before and after surgery (6 weeks and 3, 6, and 12 months) using Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) health domains and the PAM. Satisfaction was assessed using the Patient Satisfaction Index. Using repeated-measures logistic regression, the authors compared the likelihood of being satisfied across stages of patient activation after adjusting for baseline characteristics (i.e., age, sex, race, education, income, and marital status). RESULTS While a majority of patients endorsed the highest level of activation (56%), 51 (20%) endorsed the lower two stages (neither believing that taking an active role was important nor having the knowledge and skills to manage their condition). Preoperative patient activation was weakly correlated (r ≤ 0.2) with PROMIS health domains. The most activated patients were 3 times more likely to be satisfied with their treatment at 1 year (OR 3.23, 95% CI 1.8–5.8). Similarly, patients in the second-highest stage of activation also demonstrated significantly greater odds of being satisfied (OR 2.8, 95% CI 1.5–5.3). CONCLUSIONS Patients who are more engaged in their healthcare prior to elective spine surgery are significantly more likely to be satisfied with their postoperative outcome. Clinicians may want to implement previously proven techniques to increase patient activation in order to improve patient satisfaction following elective spine surgery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)914-920
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neurosurgery: Spine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2020


  • Cervical
  • Lumbar
  • PAM
  • PROs
  • Patient Activation Measure
  • Patient-reported outcomes
  • Quality improvement
  • Satisfaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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