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Patient experience of the acute post-surgical period following total laryngectomy during the COVID-19 era

Lookup NU author(s): Laura-Jayne Watson, David Hamilton, Dr Joanne Patterson



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2022 The Authors. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists. Background: Total laryngectomy (TL) results in permanent functional changes requiring rapid development of complex new skills. A significant portion of this learning happens in the acute post-surgical stage. There is increasing interest in enhanced recovery after surgery (ERAS) protocols in TL; however, implementation has been difficult. COVID-19 has placed significant pressures on acute services, requiring rapid service changes for TL patients. Aims: To understand the acute patient experience of having a TL both before and during COVID-19. Methods & Procedures: Semi-structured interviews using a pre-designed topic guide were conducted with 10 people who had undergone a TL within the last 2 years. Participants were recruited by their speech and language therapists using purposive sampling. Braun and Clarke's iterative approach to data collection and thematic analysis was used to generate key themes from the data. Outcomes & Results: Thematic analysis identified four main themes: (1) pre-operative information-giving: ‘it was just words’; (2) decision-making influences: ‘I just wanted them to get it all out and get it over with’; (3) coping with adjustment to the new normal: ‘this is part of me now’; and (4) the importance of relationship-building: ‘when you've had something like this, you need some care and understanding’. Conclusions & Implications: The need for an individualized approach to TL intervention which incorporates medical and psycho-social approaches from pre-treatment to acute discharge is vital. ERAS models should be reviewed to shift beyond the medical model alone. Rapid service changes due to COVID-19 did not contribute any major changes to the acute patient-reported experience. What this paper adds: What is already known on the subject We know that ERAS protocols have the potential to improve patient outcomes following TL. However, the research does not consider anything other than the early oral feeding debate and it has therefore been difficult to implement ERAS protocols in current service models. COVID19 required head and neck cancer services to make quick changes to surgical pathways, with the potential that some ERAS protocols had been adopted inadvertently. In order to understand the impact of this, we need to understand the patient experience following TL both before and during COVID19. What this paper adds to existing knowledge This paper used qualitative interviews to understand the acute patient experience following TL both during and before COVID19. Findings from these interviews highlighted that people were on the most part, well prepared for the functional changes they would experience after surgery. However, people felt there were gaps in service delivery at the pre-treatment and early discharge home period. Overall, the gaps identified were from a more psycho-social need suggesting that future ERAS models of care should consider both medical and psycho-social principles to enhance patient experience and outcome. What are the potential or actual clinical implications of this work? Pre-treatment services provided to people who have a TL could be reviewed to help maximize long-term adjustment to life. Areas which could be reviewed include the method and mode of information delivery. Further work needs to be done in partnership with community services to improve the immediate discharge home experience.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Watson L-J, Hamilton D, Patterson JM

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders

Year: 2022

Volume: 57

Issue: 4

Pages: 737-748

Print publication date: 18/07/2022

Online publication date: 11/04/2022

Acceptance date: 02/02/2022

Date deposited: 28/04/2022

ISSN (print): 1368-2822

ISSN (electronic): 1460-6984

Publisher: John Wiley and Sons Inc.


DOI: 10.1111/1460-6984.12709


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