Substantial Variation in Decision Making to Perform Subacromial Decompression Surgery for Subacromial Pain Syndrome Between Orthopaedic Shoulder Surgeons for Identical Clinical Scenarios: A Case-Vignette Study

Timon H. Geurkink*, Perla J. Marang-van de Mheen, Jochem Nagels, Ronald N. Wessel, Rudolf W. Poolman, Rob G.H.H. Nelissen, Leti van Bodegom-Vos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: To provide further insight into the variation in decision making to perform subacromial decompression (SAD) surgery in patients with subacromial pain syndrome (SAPS) and its influencing factors. Methods: Between November 2021 and February 2022, we invited 202 Dutch Shoulder and Elbow Society members to participate in a cross-sectional Web-based survey including 4 clinical scenarios of SAPS patients. Scenarios varied in patient characteristics, clinical presentation, and other contextual factors. For each scenario, respondents were asked (1) to indicate whether they would perform SAD surgery, (2) to indicate the probability of benefit of SAD surgery (i.e., pain reduction), (3) to indicate the probability of harm (i.e., complications), and (4) to rank the 5 most important factors influencing their treatment decision. Results: A total of 78 respondents (39%) participated. The percentage of respondents who would perform SAD surgery ranged from 4% to 25% among scenarios. The median probability of perceived benefit ranged between 70% and 79% across scenarios for respondents indicating to perform surgery compared with 15% to 29% for those indicating not to perform surgery. The difference in the median probability of perceived harm ranged from 3% to 9% for those indicating to perform surgery compared with 8% to 13% for those indicating not to perform surgery. Surgeons who would perform surgery mainly reported patient-related factors (e.g., complaint duration and response to physical therapy) as the most important factors to perform SAD surgery, whereas surgeons who would not perform surgery mainly reported guideline-related factors. Conclusions: Overall, Dutch orthopaedic shoulder surgeons are reluctant to perform SAD surgery in SAPS patients. There is substantial variation among orthopaedic surgeons regarding decisions to perform SAD surgery for SAPS even when evaluating identical scenarios, where particularly the perceived benefit of surgery differed between those who would perform surgery and those who would not. Surgeons who would not perform SAD surgery mainly referred to guideline-related factors as influential factors for their decision, whereas those who would perform SAD surgery considered patient-related factors more important. Clinical Relevance: There is substantial variation in decision making to perform SAD surgery for SAPS between individual orthopaedic surgeons for identical case scenarios.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100819
JournalArthroscopy, Sports Medicine, and Rehabilitation
Volume5
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023
Externally publishedYes

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