BACKGROUND: A surgeon's level of frustration when performing an operation and level of satisfaction at completion may be correlated with patients' outcomes. We evaluated the relationship between the attending surgeons' frustration and satisfaction and recurrence and complications of open and laparoscopic inguinal hernia repair. STUDY DESIGN: Men with detectable inguinal hernias were randomized to undergo open or laparoscopic herniorrhaphy at 14 Veterans Affairs hospitals. After completion of the procedure, surgeons were asked to assess their level of frustration during the operation and their overall satisfaction with the operative result. Two subjective scales ranging from 1 (not frustrated/not satisfied) to 5 (very frustrated/very satisfied) were used to independently assess both parameters. Reasons for surgeon frustration were evaluated. Patients were followed for 2 years for recurrence and complications. RESULTS: Of 1,983 patients who underwent hernia repair, 1,622 were available for analysis; 808 had open repair and 813 had laparoscopic repair. Surgeons reported less frustration and more satisfaction with open than with laparoscopic repair (p = 0.0001 and 0.0001, respectively). Frustration was associated with a higher rate of hernia recurrence at 2 years (adjusted odds ratio, 2.01, 95% CI, 1.15-3.51) in open repair, and a higher overall rate of postoperative complications (adjusted odds ratio, 1.27, 95% CI, 1.03-1.56) in both open and laparoscopic hernia repair. Satisfaction was not correlated with recurrence or complications. CONCLUSIONS: The level of a surgeon's frustration during performance of an inguinal herniorrhaphy was a better predictor of outcomes of the operation than was satisfaction with the procedure. Sources of intraoperative frustration should be controlled to improve outcomes.
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