Definition of low-value care in a low-risk preoperative population: A scoping review

Josiane F. John, Ana Paula Ana, Miriam A. Z. Marcolino, Richard D. Urman, João Marques-Gomes, Carisi A. Polanczyk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Rationale: Preoperative care is one of the main areas in which to address low-value care. A detailed definition of what low-value care is in this period of the surgical care journey paves the way for new scientific research, clinical improvements, and reduction of unnecessary costs in this field. Aims and Objective: To identify how low-value care in low-risk preoperative population has been defined in the scientific literature and propose a low-value care framework with potential consequences in this setting. Methods: Scoping review of theoretical studies and peer-reviewed papers, including reviews, commentaries, or expert opinions, were considered eligible for inclusion. The following databases were consulted: MEDLINE (via PubMed), EMBASE, and SCOPUS (from inception to July 24, 2021), using a structured search with the keywords “low value care”, “clinical waste”, “preoperative”, and “elective procedures.” Two independent reviewers performed study selection and data extraction. The definition of low-value care in the preoperative period and their consequences were described after extracting previous low-value care concepts and summarising the contents. Also, a visual framework was built with this information. Results: From 1519 publications identified in the initial searches, 22 underwent full-text assessment, and 11 conceptual studies were included in the review. A total of four studies (36%) presented a general low-value care definition, and all studies report some situations considered low-value care in the preoperative field of low-risk surgeries. The most common example of preoperative low-value care, listed in nine studies (81%), was having asymptomatic patients undergo screening tests before surgery. The main clinical and nonclinical consequences of low-value care in the preoperative phase included false-positive results from exams as well as psychological distress, increased costs, and delay in surgery. Conclusions: Revisiting and integrating previous definitions of low-value care in low-risk surgery into a scoping review is a starting point for de-implementing unnecessary care and promoting improvements in surgical pathways.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)639-646
JournalJournal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023


  • low-risk surgeries
  • low-value care
  • preoperative
  • scoping review


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