Date of Award


Degree Type

Master's Essay - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)



First Advisor

Agnes A. Reinders

Second Advisor

Louise M. Schmitt


Doctors and nurses desire that their patients cough, breath [sic] deeply, turn, and ambulate soon after surgery. Some patients do this willingly and others do not. Those that do these activities easily are considered cooperative and "good patients." This study selected one method of working with patients to determine what effect a constant regimen of preoperative teaching would have on postoperative behavior. Forty adult patients having abdominal surgery were selected for the study. A random selection of twenty of these patients were taught and had practice preoperatively, with a consistant [sic] regimen, the importance and benefit to themselves of coughing , changing body position, deep breathing, and ambulating . The control group of twenty patients were seen by the author preoperatively but they were not taught the above therapies . After surgery each patient had a five point behavior rating scale checked by the nurse who cared for him. This scale indicated his willingness to cough, breath deeply, turn, sit on the edge of the bed, and ambulate . The nurse who assessed this behavior did not know whether or not the patient had been instructed. The results were tested for statistical significance by the use of the unpaired "t" test and are as follows:

1) There was no significant difference at p < .05 in the experimental patients willingness to breath deeply or change body position.

2) The experimental group was significantly more willing to sit on the edge of the bed and ambulate than the control group.

3) The experimental group was significantly higher in their willingness to cough than the patients in the control group.

The implication of this study is that when patients are encouraged through education to take a more active role in their rehabilitation they are willing to do so. Therefore, these therapeutic activities should be included in the preoperative teaching of the patient.