Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)


Physical Therapy

Advisor 1

Merrill Landers

First Committee Member

Jill Slaboda

Second Committee Member

Merrill Landers

Number of Pages



Purpose/Hypothesis: Studies have shown that poor lumbar surgery outcomes may be influenced by a person’s preconceived perceptions of low back surgery (LBS). However, the perceptions of the general population about issues related to lumbar surgery are not known. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate the general population’s perceptions regarding LBS.

Number of Subjects: This study included 262 participants (Average age: 46.1, SD=16.9; 125 Males, 137 Females) who completed the questionnaire from the general population in the Las Vegas area.

Materials/Methods: Questionnaire development involved expert panel feedback from three physical therapists, three spine surgeons, two surgeon assistants/nurses, two researchers specializing in questionnaire design and two pain scientists. After revision and establishment of test-retest reliability, it was distributed at 12 grocery stores that were randomly selected from the Las Vegas area. The questionnaire consisted of demographic information, personal and family medical history, and 11 questions pertaining to perceptions of lumbar surgery.

Results: Of the surveyed population, approximately one third believed that lumbar surgery is successful to the point that they would be able to return to their previous level of activity. Over half of the respondents agreed that they would be afraid to undergo back surgery. In addition, more than half believe that side effects are common and recovery from low back surgery is long. 76% of respondents agreed that they would try all other means of treatment before opting for lower back surgery, yet 39% said they would undergo back surgery if they had severe low back pain.

Conclusions: Our results show that the general population has a somewhat negative bias towards back surgery with the general view that LBS will result in a poor outcome, side effects, and protracted recovery. Most of the participants are afraid to have surgery and are not confident in returning to work or participating in previous physical activities. They are also not sure whether or not lower back surgery is successful. A large majority would first attempt recovery through alternate means like physical therapy, medication, etc.

Clinical Relevance: It is valuable to understand that the majority of people have a negative view on lumbar surgery. Patient education prior to surgery could be beneficial to their surgical outcomes, providing that patient expectations are approached realistically and individual variances are taken into account.


Back – Surgery; Backache – Treatment; Health attitudes – Research; Orthopedic surgery


Orthopedics | Public Health Education and Promotion | Rehabilitation and Therapy | Surgery

File Format


File Size

643 Kb

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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