Public perceptions on robotic surgery, hospitals with robots, and surgeons that use them
The use of robotic-assisted surgery (RS) has rapidly increased, but public perceptions about RS are largely unknown. The aim of this study was to gain insight into public perceptions about RS, hospitals that have robots, and surgeons that use them.
A Web-based survey was distributed worldwide. Surveys were collected from July to September 2014, and those with 50 % or greater completion were used for analysis.
There were 789 surveys, and 747 (95 %) were used for analysis. The mean age of respondents was 38.5 years. Most (94 %) were from the USA. Over half (53 %) had a background in health care, and 13 % were physicians. The majority of respondents (86 %) had previously heard of RS, but almost 25 % indicated that RS was like open, laser, or scarless surgery. Over 20 % of respondents indicated that the robot had some degree of autonomy during surgery. Most respondents (72 %) indicated that RS was safer, faster, and less painful or offered better results, but when asked if they would choose to have RS, 55 % would prefer to have conventional minimally invasive surgery. Hospitals with a robot were thought to be better hospitals by 53 % of the respondents. Fewer physicians perceived advantages to RS (30 % physicians vs 78 % non-physicians p < 0.001), and fewer physicians would prefer RS if they needed surgery (30 vs 49 % p = 0.001). One-half of respondents would prefer remote RS by a renowned expert they had never met over having RS by a local non-expert surgeon.
Most respondents perceived benefits to RS, but still preferred conventional minimally invasive surgery if necessary. Misperceptions about the robot indicate a need for patient education prior to RS. Interest by 50 % of respondents in remote surgery might allow expert surgeons to do complex procedures without necessitating regionalization of care. Issues identified in this survey merit further exploration.
KeywordsRobotic surgery Robot-assisted surgery Survey Public Perception
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Michael DeMeester and Drs. Boys, Alicuben, Worrell, and Steven DeMeester have no conflicts of interest or financial ties to disclose. Dr. Hagen is a proctor for Intuitive, but has no other financial relationship.
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