Objectives: To assess patients' views of maximum acceptable waiting times (MAWT) for hip and knee replacement, associated factors and the accuracy of self-reported waiting times.
Methods: We mailed 1000 questionnaires each to two random samples of patients either waiting for or who had received an arthroplasty within the preceding 3-12 months. We used linear regression to assess the determinants of patient MAWT, and content analysis to assess reasons for MAWT and ideal waiting time.
Results: Of the 1330 responses, 1127 had MAWT data. The sample was 57% women; mean age was 70 +/- 11 years. Median self-reported and actual waiting time was eight months (Spearman correlation = 0.70). Median MAWT was four months and ideal waiting time was two months. The most frequent reasons for MAWT were pain, quality of life and needing time to prepare for surgery. A longer MAWT was associated with younger age, group (waiting), a longer self-reported waiting time, better EQ-5D index, an acceptable waiting time, a perception of fairness and a view that others worse off on the list should go ahead.
Conclusions: Patients' views of acceptable waiting times are important for a fair process of establishing waiting time benchmarks for joint replacement.