Differences between Patient and Surgeon Interests in Musculoskeletal Research

Document Type : RESEARCH PAPER


Department of Surgery and Perioperative Care, Dell Medical School, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, USA


Background: There is a growing interest in engaging patients in research priorities and project design. This study
compared topics patients and surgeons would like to address in upper extremity musculoskeletal research.
Methods: We invited patients on social media-based support groups for specific musculoskeletal illnesses and
members of the Science Of Variation Group to indicate the three most important research topics by disease. We
also measured agreement that patients should participate in research on a five-point Likert scale. We categorized
research priorities into the following categories: treatment, cause and natural history, recovery, diagnostic process,
and economic impact. Bivariate analysis was used to detect differences between surgeons and patient responses.
Multivariable regression models sought factors associated with agreement whether patients should participate in
research. Sixty-two surgeons and 350 patients completed the survey, who had one of the following musculoskeletal
illnesses: Dupuytren contracture, adhesive capsulitis, Kienböck disease, complex regional pain syndrome, rotator cuff
tendinopathy, carpal- or cubital tunnel syndrome, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Results: Both patients and surgeons were most interested in research into treatment options. There were few
differences in the number of responses per category between surgeons and patients. Patients and surgeons with fewer
years of practice agree most with involving patients in research.
Conclusion: Patients and surgeons prioritize research about treatment. Surgeons were more interested in natural
history of disease and surgical techniques, while patients were more interested in alleviation of pain.
Level of evidence: N/A