Patient Education in Neurosurgery: Part 1 of a Systematic Review

Nathan A. Shlobin, Jeffrey R. Clark, Steven C. Hoffman, Benjamin S. Hopkins, Kartik Kesavabhotla, Nader S. Dahdaleh*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Background: Patient education has become increasingly important in neurosurgery. However, little is known regarding how to comprehensively educate neurosurgical patients. In the first part of a 2-part systematic review, we identify baseline patient understanding and educational needs, examine existing patient education materials, and characterize shortcomings in neurosurgical patient education practices. Our findings may guide neurosurgeons, departments, and professional associations in improving communication with patients. Methods: A 2-part systematic review was conducted using the PubMed, Embase, and Scopus databases. Titles and abstracts were read and selected for full text review. Studies meeting prespecified inclusion criteria were reviewed in full and analyzed for study design, aim, population, interventions, and outcomes. Results: Of 1617 resultant articles, 41 were included. Patient comprehension was low. Patient informational needs differed across patients and between patients and neurosurgeons. Patient informational needs were often unmet, promoting dissatisfaction. Written educational materials from government agencies, professional associations, neurosurgery departments, neurosurgeons, or widely read Web sites were written at a reading level above the recommended reading level, with complex topics written at a higher level. Information found on hospital and university Web sites was poor quality because of self-marketing and lack of reference to peer-reviewed literature. Educational videos created by universities and hospitals were poor quality. Conclusions: Current in-clinic discussions and education materials show shortcomings, promoting poor comprehension. Neurosurgeons, departments, and professional organizations can act to improve the effectiveness of patient education initiatives. This policy will better inform patients, increase rapport between neurosurgeons and patients, and improve patient decision making and satisfaction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)202-214.e1
JournalWorld neurosurgery
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • Health literacy
  • Informed consent
  • Neurological surgery
  • Neurosurgery
  • Patient education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


Dive into the research topics of 'Patient Education in Neurosurgery: Part 1 of a Systematic Review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this