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What Did You Expect? Patients' Expectations before Total Hip Replacement

Posted on: 11/30/2003
Doctors are learning that patients' expectations before total hip replacement (THR) surgery are important. Some patients think THR will return them to their glory days of activity and improve their social lives. Chances are these patients are setting themselves up to be disappointed.

These authors studied patients' expectations right before THR. They questioned more than 1,000 patients. They found out several interesting things:

  • The patients had a wide range of expectations. The most common expectations were to walk better, stop taking pain medication, be able to get a job, and have a more active sex life.
  • Older patients had somewhat different expectations. They were more likely to expect to do daily tasks more easily.
  • In addition to physical improvement, many patients also expected THR to make them happier and improve their social lives.
  • Patients with the worst hip function tended to have higher expectations of THR. So did patients with poor overall health. Older patients and men also expected more from THR.

    These findings are important to surgeons. Patients who are happy with the results of THR tend to follow rehab plans better. Unsatisfied patients often give up on rehab and then have even worse results. This study suggests that surgeons might want to be especially sure to discuss expectations with patients in poor health or with poor hip function.

    The authors conclude that it is important for surgeons to discuss expectations with each patient before THR. Something like the survey used in this study could give surgeons a way to open the conversation. The discussion then needs to be tailored to the individual THR patient.

  • References:
    Carol A. Mancuso, MD, et al. Patients with Poor Preoperative Functional Status Have High Expectations of Total Hip Arthroplasty. In The Journal of Arthroplasty. October 2003. Vol. 18. No. 7. Pp.872-878.

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