Background: Patient-related barriers to accessing surgical interventions including patient education issues, stigma, traditional beliefs, and absence of social support, negatively impact surgical outcomes. This study aimed at evaluating the awareness, attitude, and reasons for the disposition of patients and their relatives towards the offer of surgical intervention for infants and the old in Port Harcourt in the year 2022/2023.
Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional descriptive study was conducted in Port Harcourt Nigeria, among patients and relatives of patients at extremes of age (infants and the old) using an interviewer-administered questionnaire. Data were analysed using SPSS version 23.0.
Results: Of 575 respondents recruited with a mean age of 50.81±17.77, 395 (68.9%) were females. While 351 (61.5%) respondents were aware of the possibility of carrying out surgical operations on infants, 189 (32.9%) were aware of consent decline for surgery for their infants and, 66 (11.5%) stated the child died as a consequence of such a decision. Whereas, 493 (86.0%) of respondents were aware that surgery could be carried out on old persons, 196 (34.5%) were aware of consent decline for surgery for the old, for which some died. Yet, 444 (77.2%) and 459 (80.8%) of respondents had a positive attitude to surgery in infants and old persons, respectively. Aversion to surgery were mainly due to fear of losing child (72.3%) and fragility of old person (46.0%).
Conclusion: This study documented the awareness and attitude to surgery at extremes of age, and uncovered the reasons for such dispositions.