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Patient Perceptions of COVID-19-Related Surgical Delay: An Analysis of Patients Awaiting Total Hip and Knee Arthroplasty

  • Wilson, Jacob M.1, 2
  • Schwartz, Andrew M.1, 2
  • Grissom, Helyn E.1, 2
  • Holmes, Jeffrey S.1, 2
  • Farley, Kevin X.1
  • Bradbury, Thomas L.1, 2
  • Guild, George N. III1, 2
  • 1 Emory University School of Medicine,
  • 2 Emory University Orthopaedics & Spine Hospital,
Published Article
HSS Journal
Springer US
Publication Date
Sep 15, 2020
DOI: 10.1007/s11420-020-09799-9
PMID: 32952467
PMCID: PMC7491018
PubMed Central


Background COVID-19 has caused unprecedented delays in elective orthopedic surgery. Understanding patients’ perceptions of the disruptions in care and their willingness to reengage the healthcare system are crucial to planning the resumption of elective care. Questions/Purposes The purpose of this study was to elicit patient perceptions about delays in total joint arthroplasty during the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods We identified a consecutive series of patients who experienced COVID-19-driven delays to scheduled total hip or knee arthroplasty at an urban, academic medical center in the Southeastern United States. A 20-item survey was administered via telephone. Answers were recorded and descriptive statistics were performed. A post hoc χ -square analysis compared characteristics and outlooks of patients who did and did not immediately desire surgery. Results Of 111 patients (64% of those identified) who met inclusion criteria and completed the survey, 96% said they felt that they were treated fairly and 90% said that the surgical delay was in their best interest; 68% reported emotional distress from the delay, but 45% reported a desire to wait longer for the pandemic to subside. Lower joint-function scores, higher pain levels, higher pain catastrophizing scores, and longer latency from personally deciding to pursue surgery were associated with the reported need for immediate surgery. Conclusion Overall, patients reported that they understood the need for elective surgical delays during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the psychological implications they reported were not negligible. Patient preference for immediate reengagement with the healthcare system was dichotomous, with many patients favoring precautionarily furthering the delay. Understanding these preferences will help optimize elective orthopedic care during unprecedented times. Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (10.1007/s11420-020-09799-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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