Editor's choice| Volume 44, ISSUE 4, P311-320.e4, April 2019

Defining Quality in Hand Surgery From the Patient’s Perspective: A Qualitative Analysis


      Quality measures are used to evaluate health care delivery. They are traditionally developed from the physician and health system viewpoint. This approach can lead to quality measures that promote care that may be misaligned with patient values and preferences. We completed an exploratory, qualitative study to identify how patients with hand problems define high-quality care. Our purpose was to develop a better understanding of the surgery and recovery experience of hand surgery patients, specifically focusing on knowledge gaps, experience, and the surgical process.


      A steering committee (n = 10) of patients who had previously undergone hand surgery reviewed and revised an open-ended survey. Ninety-nine patients who had undergone hand surgery at 2 tertiary care institutions completed the open-ended, structured questionnaire during their 6- to 8-week postoperative clinic visit. Two reviewers completed a thematic analysis to generate subcodes and codes to identify themes in high-quality care from the patient’s perspective.


      We identified 4 themes of high-quality care: (1) Being prepared and informed for the process of surgery, (2) Regaining hand function without pain or complication, (3) Patients and caregivers negotiating the physical and psychological challenges of recovery, and (4) Financial and logistical burdens of undergoing hand surgery.


      Multiple areas that patients identify as representing high-quality care are not reflected in current quality measures for hand surgery. The patient-derived themes of high-quality care can inform future patient-centered quality measure development.

      Clinical relevance

      Efforts to improve health care delivery may have the greatest impact by addressing areas of care that are most valued by patients. Such areas include patient education, system navigation, the recovery process, and cost.

      Key words

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