Shared decision making, preoperative expectations, and postoperative reality: differences in physician and patient predictions and ratings of knee surgery outcomes

Arthroscopy. 2005 May;21(5):562-9. doi: 10.1016/j.arthro.2005.02.022.


Purpose: The present study was performed to determine the extent to which physicians and patients rate preoperative and postoperative knee pain and function differently, and to determine whether physicians or patients more accurately predict postoperative knee pain and function.

Type of study: Longitudinal, prospective study.

Methods: Ninety-eight patients requiring either anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction surgery or meniscectomy and related surgery were interviewed 1 week before surgery, as well as 3 and 24 weeks postoperatively. Patients and their physicians completed ratings on knee pain and function at each time point. In addition, at their preoperative visit, patients and physicians completed ratings predicting their postoperative pain and functional status.

Results: Physicians rated patients as having less pain and greater knee function preoperatively and at 24 weeks postoperatively. Patients had more significant differences between predicted and actual ratings.

Conclusions: Physicians tended to underestimate knee pain and overestimate knee function compared with patients. However, physicians better predicted postoperative knee pain and function ratings than did patients. These findings suggest that physician-patient discussions about preoperative expectations and postoperative reality might be an important part of clinical care.

Level of evidence: Level II, Prospective Longitudinal Study.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament / surgery*
  • Athletic Injuries / surgery*
  • Decision Making*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Knee Injuries / surgery*
  • Knee Joint / surgery*
  • Menisci, Tibial / surgery*
  • Orthopedic Procedures / adverse effects
  • Orthopedic Procedures / methods*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pain, Postoperative / classification
  • Pain, Postoperative / psychology*
  • Patient Participation
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United States
  • Workers' Compensation