Background: An increasing number of patients in the working population are undergoing total hip and knee replacement for osteoarthritis and the timing and success of return to work (RTW) is becoming increasingly important as a measure of success for these patients. There is limited understanding of the patient variables that determine the ability to RTW.
Aims: To explore the factors influencing RTW following hip and knee replacement from the patient's perspective.
Methods: A cross-sectional population-based postal survey carried out with patients of working age after hip and knee replacement surgery in a UK teaching hospital. Free text comments were collected regarding the experiences of patients returning to work following hip and knee replacement. Qualitative thematic analysis was undertaken to identify the factors influencing RTW from the patient's perspective.
Results: From the patients' perspective three key factors were identified that influenced RTW. Patients reported an improved physical and psychological performance at work after surgery in comparison to pre-operative functioning, although there was a lack of informed advice regarding RTW after surgery. Workplace support and adaptation of the job role enhanced the experience of RTW.
Conclusions: Return to work is influenced by a combination of patient, clinician and occupational factors. The relationship between each of these needs to be explored in greater depth through further qualitative work to gain a wider understanding of the variables influencing patients' RTW following hip and knee replacement.
Keywords: Qualitative; return to work; total hip replacement; total knee replacement..
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