Background: Despite successful functional neurosurgery, patients suffering from epilepsy or Parkinson’s disease may experience postoperative psychological distress and social maladjustments. Difficulties in coping with postoperative changes, even positive ones, have shown to be related to patients’ presurgery cognitive representations (i.e., expectations, hope, abstract vs. concrete representations). The aim of this study was to develop an instrument assessing various key features of surgery outcomes’ representations, namely the Preoperative Hope and Expectations Questionnaire, PHEQ.
Methods: Participants were patients (n = 50) diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (n = 25) or epilepsy (n = 25), candidates for functional neurosurgery (i.e., Deep brain stimulation, anterior temporal lobectomy). At 2-3 weeks before the planned surgery, they were administrated items assessing their actual state, preoperative expectations, and hope regarding surgery outcomes. They also completed measures assessing optimism, quality of life and mood.
Results: Exploratory analysis resulted in a 16-item version of the PHEQ composed of two factors (abstract representations, including psychological well-being and concrete representations, such as functional aspects of everyday functioning). The PHEQ demonstrated high internal consistency and good convergent validity. Patients were more prone to express postoperative improvements in terms of hope rather than expectations. They generally focused on concrete rather than abstract features, although patients with Parkinson’s disease had higher abstract future-oriented representations.
Conclusions: The PHEQ presents satisfactory psychometric properties and may be considered as a reliable instrument for research and clinical practice.