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Health and Quality of Life Outcomes







Over 500,000 spinal surgeries are performed annually in the United States. Although pain relief and improved health-related quality of life (HRQOL) are expectations following lumbar spinal surgery, there is limited research regarding this experience from the individual's perspective. In addition, no studies have examined the HRQOL of persons who have had this surgery using a comprehensive approach. The intent of this study was to address this deficiency by an assessment of both the individual and environmental factors that impact perceived HRQOL using the Wilson and Cleary Model for Health-Related Quality of Life in persons who have undergone lumbar spinal surgery.


This was a pilot study of 57 adult patients undergoing elective lumbar spinal surgery for either herniated disk and/or degenerative changes. Individuals completed questionnaires measuring perceived pain, mood, functional status, general health perceptions, social support and HRQOL preoperatively and three months following surgery. Descriptive statistics, dependent t-tests, and MANOVAs were used to describe and compare the differences of the study variables over time.


Preliminary results indicate overall perceived physical HRQOL was significantly improved postoperatively (t [56] = 6.45, p < .01), however, it was lower than the published norms for patients with low back pain. Both functional disability (t [56] = 10.47, p < .001) and pain (t [56] = 10.99, p < .001) were significantly improved after surgery. Although levels of fatigue and vigor were also significantly improved after surgery, both were less than the published norms. There was no change in the level of social support over time; however, level of support was consistent with that reported by patients with chronic illness.


Although perceived physical HRQOL was significantly improved three months postoperatively, fatigue and lack of vigor were issues for subjects postoperatively. Excessive fatigue and low vigor may have implications for successful rehabilitation and return to work for patients following lumbar spinal surgery. Further research is needed with a larger sample size and subgroup analyses to confirm these results


Author posting. © 2007 Saban et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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