Fulfillment of Expectations After Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Surgery

To date, no study has assessed fulfillment of patients’ expectations after foot and ankle surgery. This study aimed to validate a method of assessing expectation fulfillment in foot/ankle patients postoperatively.

Preoperatively, patients completed the expectations survey, consisting of 23 questions for domains including pain, ambulation, daily function, exercise, and shoe wear. At 2 years postoperatively, patients answered how much improvement they received for each item cited preoperatively. A fulfillment proportion (FP) was calculated as the amount of improvement received versus the amount of improvement expected. The FP ranges from 0 (no expectations fulfilled), to between 0 and 1 (expectations partially fulfilled), to 1 (expectations met), to greater than 1 (expectations surpassed). Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves and areas under the curve (AUCs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were used to compare the expectations survey to other outcome surveys, including Foot and Ankle Outcome Score, improvement, overall fulfillment, Delighted-Terrible scale, and satisfaction.

Of the 271 patients (mean age 55.4 years, mean BMI 27.5, 65% female), 34% had expectations surpassed (FP >1), 4% had expectations met, 58% had expectations partially fulfilled (FP between 0 and 1), and 5% had no expectations met. The mean FP was 0.84 ± 0.41 (range 0-3.13), indicating partially fulfilled expectations. FP correlated significantly with all outcome measures (P ≤ .007). FP was associated most closely with satisfaction (r = 0.66 [95% CI 0.57-0.75]; AUC = 0.92 [95% CI 0.88-0.96]; P < .001) and improvement (r = 0.73 [95% CI 0.64-0.81]; AUC = 0.94 [95% CI 0.91-0.96]; P < .001). Based on the associations with satisfaction and improvement outcomes, a clinically important proportion of expectations fulfilled is 0.68, with sensitivity 0.85-0.90 and specificity 0.84-0.86.

The proportion of expectations fulfilled is a novel patient-centered outcome that correlated with validated outcome measures. The expectations survey may be used by surgeons to counsel patients preoperatively and also to assess patients’ results postoperatively.

Level II, prospective comparative series.