Sabine Fischbeck, Katja Petrowski, Mirjam Renovanz, Rebecca Nesbigall, Julian Haaf, Florian Ringel

August 2021, Volume 30, Issue 8, pp 2360 - 2367 Original Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-021-06824-1

First Online: 05 June 2021


Meeting the information needs of patients adequately is of high importance in informed consent consultations in surgery. However, information needs often remain unmet in the informed consent consultation. The aim of this study was to assess anxiety and pain in relation to the patients’ information needs fulfillment perioperatively.


We applied a question prompt list (QPL) for patients undergoing spine surgery (SN-QPL) before (t1) and a question answering list (SN-QAL) after (t2) the informed consent consultation. The patients additionally completed the “State-Trait Anxiety Operation Inventory” (STOA, cognitive and affective scale) at t1, as well as a pain numerical rating scale (NRS) at t2 and postoperative (t3). We analyzed (1) the association between anxiety, information needs and pain and (2) anxiety and pain scores regarding information needs fulfillment after the consent consultation.


A total of n = 118 patients was included. Affective and cognitive state anxiety was only reduced postoperatively (affective p < .001, cognitive p < .05). The higher trait anxiety was, the more patients longed for information at t1–t3 (t1: r = .58/r = .74, each p < .001), (t2: r = .38/r = .49, each p < .001) and (t3: r = .29, p < .01/r = 34, p < .001). Higher grades of trait anxiety resulted in lower information needs fulfilment. Higher state anxiety levels were associated with higher pain levels. Information needs more often remained unfulfilled in high trait and state anxiety patients.


Patients’ anxiety was associated with (un)fulfilled information needs. Meeting information needs should be optimized in the process of surgeon–patient communication. Adapting the information to the patients’ anxiety levels seem to be an effective way to reduce anxiety.

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