Objectives: To examine the existence, direction, and effect of response shift as measured by the total score of Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) and SF-36 physical and mental component score domains at 6 months and 1 year after primary total knee arthroplasty (TKA).
Study design and setting: Consecutive candidates participated in the study. In line with the Then-test design, two sets of questionnaires were completed at 6 months and 1 year postoperatively. Patients were divided into three groups on the basis of minimal clinically important differences (MCIDs). Parametric and nonparametric statistics and generalized mixed effects models were used.
Results: Two hundred and thirty-six patients completed the study. The magnitude of response shift increased over time for SF-36 physical and mental component scores. The traditional unadjusted presurgical and 1-year postsurgical assessment failed to reveal any mental health improvement, whereas the adjusted treatment effect demonstrated statistically significant changes.
Conclusion: Response shift phenomenon increases with time in patients undergoing orthopedic interventions. The traditional pre- and post-assessment of joint replacement surgery may be confounded by a change in perspective and in internal standards of measurement in patients undergoing surgery. Response shift has substantial impact on measuring recovery in this population.