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01.12.2017 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2017 Open Access

BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 1/2017

The importance of informational, clinical and personal support in patient experience with total knee replacement: a qualitative investigation

BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders > Ausgabe 1/2017
Laurie J. Goldsmith, Nitya Suryaprakash, Ellen Randall, Jessica Shum, Valerie MacDonald, Richard Sawatzky, Samar Hejazi, Jennifer C. Davis, Patrick McAllister, Stirling Bryan



Total knee arthroplasty (TKA) is the most frequently performed joint replacement surgery in North America. Patient perspectives on TKA have been investigated in various ways, including finding as many as 20% of TKA patients are dissatisfied with their surgical outcomes. Understanding the patient experience with TKA broadly and in relation to patient satisfaction is a key gap in existing literature.


We report on the qualitative component of a mixed methods prospective cohort study examining patient experience and satisfaction post-TKA for adults in British Columbia, Canada. Data collection consisted of 45 in-depth interviews about individuals’ knee surgery experiences conducted eight months after surgery. Analysis consisted of thematic coding by multiple coders.


Participants’ descriptions of their TKA experiences were primarily concerned with support, or the provision of aid and assistance. Support was insufficient when their expectations of support were not met; unmet support expectations led to an overall negative TKA experience. Support operated in three key domains: (1) informational support, (2) clinical support, and (3) personal support. Key sources of informational and clinical support included pre-optimisation clinics, surgeons, and physiotherapists. Key topics for informational support included pain, pain management, and recovery trajectories. Personal support was provided by family, friends, other TKA patients, employers, and themselves.


Patient needs and expectations for support are shaped both before and after TKA surgery. Patients with an overall positive TKA experience had improvement in their knee pain, stiffness or functioning post-TKA, had their major expectations and needs for support met during their TKA recovery, and believed that any significant future expectations or needs for ongoing support would be adequately met. In contrast, patients with an overall negative TKA experience had at least one major expectation or need for support not met during their TKA recovery, even in cases where they had good TKA outcomes. Suggested interventions to improve the experience of persons receiving TKA include an expanded patient navigator model, revised pre-surgery educational materials, particularly around pain expectations and management, and comprehensive sharing of other patients’ TKA experience.
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