Objective: To compare the health-related quality of life of people with osteoarthritis before and after primary total hip and knee replacement surgery with that of the general Australian population.
Design: A prospective cohort study.
Setting: Three Sydney hospitals, public and private.
Participants: Patients with osteoarthritis undergoing primary total hip (n = 59) and knee (n = 92) joint replacement surgery.
Main outcome measure: Medical Outcomes Study Short Form (SF-36) scores before and 12 months after joint replacement surgery (compared with population norms).
Results: Patients in each age group showed a significant improvement in health-related quality of life after joint replacement surgery in most scales of the SF-36, particularly physical function, role physical and bodily pain. SF-36 scores for the 42 hip-replacement patients aged 55-74 years improved to equal or exceed the population norm on all scales. SF-36 scores of the 52 knee replacement patients aged 55-74 years improved, but physical function and bodily pain scores remained significantly worse than the population norm. SF-36 scores for both hip (n = 17) and knee (n = 40) replacement patients aged 75 years and over improved significantly, becoming similar to population norms for this age group.
Conclusions: Total hip or knee replacement for osteoarthritis significantly improves patient health and well-being at 12 months after surgery. Age alone should not be a barrier to surgery.