Patient Perception of Education, Care Coordination, and Psychological Distress After Developing Facial Paralysis: A Qualitative Study.

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg


oregon; core; portland; california; pni; sjci; santa monica


IMPORTANCE: The management of vestibular schwannoma may include observation, microsurgical resection, or radiation of a tumor near the facial nerve. Injury to the facial nerve can result in facial paralysis with major functional, social, and psychological sequelae, and the experiences of patients after paralysis are not well studied.

OBJECTIVE: To (1) identify patient preparedness for developing facial paralysis and how well their care is coordinated following its development and (2) present in their own words outcomes of facial paralysis in terms of physical health, emotional health, self-perception, and social interactions.

DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: A qualitative observational study was performed using semistructured interviews at a tertiary care academic medical center. Semistructured interviews were conducted between January 1, 2018, and June 30, 2019, with adults aged 25 to 70 years who developed facial paralysis after treatment for vestibular schwannoma. Data were analyzed from July 2019 to June 2020.

MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: Perceptions of the educational and emotional experiences of individuals who developed complete facial paralysis after surgical treatment of vestibular schwannoma.

RESULTS: Overall, 12 participants were interviewed (median age, 54 years [range, 25-70 years]; 11 were female). Saturation was achieved after 12 interviews, indicating that no further information could be elicited from additional interviews. Four major themes were identified: (1) lack of sufficient patient education about the diagnosis of facial paralysis; (2) lack of appropriate care coordination related to facial paralysis; (3) changes in physical and emotional health following facial paralysis; and (4) changes in social interactions and external support following facial paralysis.

CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: It is well-known that patients with facial paralysis have reduced quality of life, severe psychological and emotional sequelae. However, little is currently done to help prepare patients for this undesirable outcome. In this qualitative study of facial paralysis, patients express, in their own words, their feeling that the education and management of facial paralysis by their clinicians was inadequate. Before patients undergo surgery, and certainly after injury to the facial nerve, clinicians should consider the patient's goals, preferences, and values to ensure that a comprehensive educational program and psychosocial support system are implemented. Facial reanimation research has not adequately captured these key patient factors associated with the quality of communication.

Clinical Institute

Mental Health

Clinical Institute

Neurosciences (Brain & Spine)


Behavioral Health