Nurse-delivered patient education on postoperative wound care: a prospective study

Brigid M. Gillespie, Rachel Walker, Frances Lin, Shelley Roberts, Ann Eskes, Paul Nieuwenhoven, Jodie Perry, Sean Birgan, Elizabeth Gerraghy, Rosalind Probert, Wendy Chaboyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE: It is estimated that one in four postoperative wound complications occur within 14 days of hospital discharge. Some estimate that up to 50% of readmissions are preventable with effective postoperative education and closer follow-up. Providing patients with information enables them to detect when medical intervention may be required. The aim of this study was to describe the content of postoperative wound care education given to patients, and to identify demographic and clinical factors that predict receipt of surgical wound care education across two tertiary hospitals in Queensland, Australia. METHOD: A prospective correlational design using structured observations, field notes and an electronic chart audit was used. A consecutive sample of surgical patients and a convenience sample of nurses were observed during episodes of postoperative wound care. Field notes were documented to gain a nuanced understanding of the wound care education delivered by nurses. Descriptive statistics were used to describe the samples. A multivariate logistic regression model was developed to describe associations between seven predictors: sex; age; case complexity; type of wound; dietetic consult; the number of postoperative days; and receipt of postoperative wound care education. RESULTS: In total, 154 nurses delivering surgical wound care and 257 patients receiving wound care were observed. Across the combined number of patients across the two hospitals, 71/257 (27.6%) wound care episodes included postoperative wound education. The content of the wound care education mainly focused on keeping the wound dressing dry and intact, while the secondary focus was on showing patients how to remove and replace the dressing. In this study, three of the seven predictors were significant: sex (β=-0.776, p=0.013); hospital site (β=-0.702, p=0.025); and number of postoperative days (β=-0.043, p=0.039). Of these, sex was the strongest, with females twice as likely to receive some form of wound care education during the postoperative period. These predictors explained 7.6-10.3% of variance in the postoperative wound care education patients received. CONCLUSION: Further research to develop strategies designed to improve the consistency and comprehensiveness of the postoperative wound care education delivered to patients is needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)437-444
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Wound Care
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jul 2023


  • clinical factors
  • nurses
  • patient education
  • postoperative wound complications
  • postoperative wound education
  • surgical wound
  • wound
  • wound care
  • wound dressing
  • wound healing


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