Consistency of written post-operative patient information for common urological procedures

Nicholas Davies, Nathan Papa, Joseph Ischia, Damien Bolton, Nathan Lawrentschuk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Following urological procedures, it is common for patients to receive written handouts containing pertinent post-operative information and advice. This study aims to assess the consistency of procedure-specific post-operative advice provided to patients in Australia. Methods: Post-operative handouts for common urological procedures were obtained from a selection of Australian hospitals and practising urologists' websites. Handouts were examined for consistency with regard to post-operative advice and the Flesch-Kincaid grade level was calculated to determine readability. Results: In total, 209 handouts were reviewed comprising seven urological procedures. The majority of handouts provided information regarding expected symptoms (88%) and when to seek medical attention (70.8%). Overall, 85.2% of handouts provided advice about which activities should and should not be performed. Instructions for return to work (32.1%), driving (45.5%), sex (32.1%) and physical activity (56%) were less universal. Infection, bleeding, pain and swelling were the principal reasons to seek medical attention. Duration of expected symptoms and timing for resuming normal activities were the most common sources of discordance between handouts. The mean Flesch-Kincaid grade level was 9.7 with a range of 6.7 to 13.6. Only 9.6% of patient information handouts had a grade level of 8 or less and no handouts were at or below the suggested grade 6 readability level. Conclusions: There is a significant degree of variability in written post-operative advice provided to patients in Australia. Individual surgeons and hospitals should provide specific and tailored advice directly to their own patients, written at a grade level suitable for the majority to understand.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)941-945
Number of pages5
JournalANZ Journal of Surgery
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Comprehension
  • Medicolegal
  • Patient education handout
  • Post-operative care
  • Return to work

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