Navigating Abandonment – Elective Surgery Cancellation From the Patient Perspective
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Elective surgery cancellation creates significant cost to both patients and organizations. To date, the majority of research has been from the hospital perspective, with a focus on decreasing the numbers of cancellations, improving productivity and saving money. The question of what happens for the patient when elective surgery is cancelled has not been asked. Qualitative grounded theory endeavors to establish strong, consistent theory in places where little is known about a phenomenon of interest. The constructivist grounded theory of Charmaz was the approach chosen. Constructivist grounded theory is rooted in pragmatism, which aligns with the researcher’s world view of focusing on ‘what works.’ By exploring what happened to participants when elective surgery was cancelled, from their perspective, and what actions they took to make sense of what happened to them, it was possible to construct interpretive meanings to these actions and develop theory to direct health professional responses. Participants who had experienced elective surgery cancellation followed by rebooking and completion of their surgery were recruited via a mailed invitation leaflet. The experience of elective surgery cancellation was explored via in-depth interview and analyzed through a theoretical lens of co-constructionism of participant and researcher. The core category of this study, ‘Navigating Abandonment’, was composed of four major categories; readying, waiting, being let down and rebuilding fragile trust. The findings of this research contribute new knowledge and insight into the patient perspective of this highly stressful event. Further research has the potential to improve patient satisfaction following elective surgery cancellation, through improved patient education and clear guidelines in the event of a hospital-initiated cancellation.