High pre-operative expectations precede both unfulfilled expectations and clinical improvement after total hip and total knee replacement

Frederique J. Hafkamp, Jolanda De Vries, Taco Gosens, Brenda L. Den Oudsten*

*Corresponding author for this work

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This prospective study aimed to examine whether patients’ and physicians’ outcome expectations were related to subjective (ie, fulfillment of expectations) and objective outcomes (ie, change in pain and function) in hip and knee arthroplasty patients up to 6 months post-surgery.

Patients’ (N = 395) and physicians’ outcome expectations were examined 1 week post-consultation. Patients’ post-operative functional status and the extent of fulfillment of expectations were examined 5 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months post-surgery. Patients and physicians completed the Hospital for Special Surgery Hip/Knee Replacement (Fulfillment) Expectations Survey. Patients completed the Hip/Knee injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score. Linear regression analyses were performed to examine the relationship between physicians’ expectations and patients’ change in pain and function and extent of fulfillment of expectations, and a possible mediated effect of patients’ pre-operative expectations.

Patients’ high expectations were consistently associated with better objective outcomes (ie, change in pain and function). Yet, high expectations in patients were also negatively related to subjective outcomes (ie, the extent of fulfillment of expectations). Physicians’ expectations were only positively associated with objective improvement in knee patients, and not in hip patients. Additionally, knee patients’ expectations partly mediated the relationship between physicians’ expectations and change in pain and function, 6 months post-surgery.

Although patients’ high expectations were associated with better objective outcomes, improvement was still less than patients expected. Thus, patients often have too high expectations of outcomes of surgery. In addition, physicians were able to influence patients’ expectations and to change experienced knee patients’ outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Journal of Arthroplasty
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020


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