Gender differences in patient preferences may underlie differential utilization of elective surgery

Am J Med. 1997 Jun;102(6):524-30. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9343(97)00050-8.


Purpose: To study gender-specific preferences regarding timing of elective total joint replacement (TJR) surgery in patients with moderately severe osteoarthritis (OA) of the hip or knee.

Patients and methods: Focus group discussions regarding TJR surgery were conducted among 18 women and among 12 men with moderately severe OA of the hip or knee. Discussions were tape recorded, transcribed, coded for themes, and evaluated semiquantitatively and qualitatively for gender differences.

Results: In general, men were more likely to choose surgery earlier in the disease than women and had higher expectations for surgical success. Women were more fearful of surgery. Women preferred to suffer arthritis pain rather than risk surgery, and indicated they would delay surgery to await better technology and to avoid disrupting caregiving roles for dependent spouses and others.

Conclusion: Men and women differ in their willingness to accept continued functional decline, risks of surgery, and disruption of usual role. Gender differences may influence decisions regarding utilization of TJR.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Caregivers
  • Decision Making*
  • Elective Surgical Procedures / psychology*
  • Fear
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Hip Prosthesis
  • Humans
  • Joint Prosthesis*
  • Knee Prosthesis
  • Male
  • Osteoarthritis / surgery*
  • Role
  • Sex Distribution*