Objective: To determine health-related quality of life (HRQOL), psychological distress, physical function, and self efficacy in persons waiting for lower-limb joint replacement surgery.
Methods: A total of 214 patients on a waiting list for unilateral primary total knee or hip replacement at a large Australian public teaching hospital completed questionnaires after entry to the list. HRQOL and psychological distress were compared with available population norms.
Results: Average HRQOL was extremely poor (mean +/- SD 0.39 +/- 0.24) and much lower (>2 SD) than the population norm. Near death-equivalent HRQOL or worse than death-equivalent HRQOL were reported by 15% of participants. High or very high psychological distress was up to 5 times more prevalent in the waiting list sample (relative risk 5.4 for participants ages 75 years and older; 95% confidence interval 3.3, 9.0). Women had significantly lower HRQOL, self efficacy, and physical function scores than men. After adjusting for age and sex, significant socioeconomic disparities were also found. Participants who received the lowest income had the poorest HRQOL; those with the least education or the lowest income had the highest psychological distress. Low self efficacy was moderately associated with poor HRQOL (r = 0.49, P < 0.001) and more strongly associated with high psychological distress (r = -0.55, P < 0.001).
Conclusion: Patients waiting for joint replacement have very poor HRQOL and high psychological distress, especially women and those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. Lengthy waiting lists mean patients can experience extended and potentially avoidable morbidity. Interventions to address psychological distress and self efficacy could reduce this burden and should target women and lower socioeconomic groups.