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William F. Connell School of Nursing

Abstract: Nurse-coached intervention in arthroscopy patients

Patients appreciate the convenience of ambulatory surgery. But many also report “feeling left on their own to manage care, sometimes under difficult circumstances,” while they are recuperating at home, according to Dorothy Jones, Mary E. Duffy, and Jane Flanagan, whose study showing the benefits of postoperative nursing coaching interventions with arthroscopic surgery patients appeared recently in Nursing Research.

Most patients have little or no postoperative contact with health care providers and no ready access to people who might be able to answer their questions, the authors observe. As a result, patients and their families are frequently unprepared for the significant postoperative symptoms many suffer, including pain, nausea and vomiting, and sleep disruption. Many arthroscopic surgery patients, told they will be back to work in 24 hours, find they have limited mobility that requires them to use assistive devices they don’t know how to use, sometimes for several days, the authors note. That raises patient and family anxiety and increases suffering.

Jones, Duffy, and Flanagan tested the hypothesis that nurse coaching interventions—in which nurses made phone calls to patients the evening after surgery, 24 hours later, and 72 hours after that—would reduce symptom distress and lead to improved functional physical and mental health. Their findings suggest that patients who received interventions had significantly less symptom distress and were in significantly better overall physical and mental health a week after surgery than patient participants who recuperated without interventions.