Osteoarthritis patients' perceptions of "appropriateness" for total joint replacement surgery

Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2012 Sep;20(9):967-73. doi: 10.1016/j.joca.2012.05.008. Epub 2012 May 31.


Objective: To understand patients' perspectives on 'appropriateness' for hip and knee total joint arthroplasty (TJA).

Methods: Focus groups were conducted, stratified by history of a previous TJA, in English-speaking men and women aged 40+ years with moderate to severe hip and knee osteoarthritis. Participants discussed: their appropriateness for TJA; the ideal candidate; patients' role in TJA decision making; and the relationship between appropriateness and willingness to consider TJA. Participants self-completed a questionnaire assessing demographics, arthritis severity (Western Ontario McMaster University Osteoarthritis index - WOMAC), perceived TJA candidacy and willingness to consider TJA. Focus groups were audio-taped and transcribed verbatim. Content analysis was performed.

Results: Eleven focus groups were conducted with 58 participants in total: mean age 72 years; 79% female; 25 (43%) with prior TJA; mean WOMAC summary score 43.1. Half reported willingness to consider TJA and 43% felt they were appropriate for TJA. Appropriateness was equated with candidacy for the procedure. Pain intensity and the ability to cope with pain were identified as the most important factors determining surgical candidacy, but felt to be inadequately evaluated by physicians. TJA appropriateness and willingness were felt to be distinct, yet related, concepts; those unwilling had stricter criteria about candidacy than those who were willing.

Conclusions: Participants equated appropriateness for TJA with surgical candidacy. Patients' pain experience (intensity, impact on quality of life, ability to cope) was seen as most important in determining appropriateness, but felt to be inadequately evaluated currently. Enhanced patient-physician communication, possibly through use of patient decision aids, has potential to improve patient selection for TJA.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Hip / psychology*
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Knee / psychology*
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Decision Making
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Osteoarthritis, Hip / psychology
  • Osteoarthritis, Hip / surgery*
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / psychology
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / surgery*
  • Patient Selection
  • Surveys and Questionnaires