Scientific Article| Volume 48, ISSUE 3, P311.e1-311.e8, March 2023

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Patient Comprehension of Operative Instructions With a Paper Handout Versus a Video: A Prospective Randomized Control Trial

Published:January 07, 2022DOI:


      The purpose of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of a video versus that of a paper handout for explaining operative instructions for hand and upper extremity surgeries to patients. We aimed to compare patient performance using a knowledge-based questionnaire. In addition, we aimed to compare how helpful patients found their assigned operative instructions.


      This was a randomized trial of 60 patients undergoing same-day hand and upper extremity surgeries. The patients were randomized to receive educational material outlining operative instructions, either in the form of a video link or a paper handout. At the first postoperative visit, the patients’ comprehension of the content was evaluated using a questionnaire. The primary outcomes included the number of questions answered correctly and patient-reported evaluation of the provided instructions on a scale of 1–5.


      Patients who received video instructions scored higher in the questionnaire than those in the paper instructions group (paper: 58% correct; video: 76% correct). Moreover, patients in the video group were significantly more likely to answer questions pertaining to opioid use correctly. A higher proportion of patients in the video group than in the paper group found the information “extremely” or “very” helpful.


      This study found that the patients demonstrated greater comprehension of the operative instructions when these were administered in a video format than when these were administered as a printed handout. In particular, the results suggest that video-based education specifically improves patients’ comprehension of proper opioid use.

      Clinical relevance

      There appears to be utility in implementing videos for patient education purposes, particularly in the setting of operative instructions for same-day surgical procedures.

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