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Return to work after knee replacement: a qualitative study of patient experiences
  1. Michelle Bardgett1,
  2. Joanne Lally2,
  3. Ajay Malviya3,
  4. David Deehan4
  1. 1Clinical Academic Unit, Newcastle upon Tyne NHS Foundation Trust, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
  2. 2Institute of Health and Society, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
  3. 3Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
  4. 4Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Newcastle upon Tyne NHS Foundation Trust, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
  1. Correspondence to Michelle Bardgett; Michelle.bardgett{at}


Objective An increasing number of patients in the working population are undergoing total knee replacement (TKR) for end-stage osteoarthritis. The timing and success of return to work is becoming increasingly important for this group of patients with social and economic implications for patients, employers and society. There is limited understanding of the patient variables that determine the ability to return to work. Our objective was (from the patient's perspective) to gain an insight into the factors influencing return to work following knee replacement.

Setting and participants This qualitative study was undertaken in a secondary-care setting in a large teaching hospital in the north of England. Semistructured interviews were carried out with 10 patients regarding their experiences of returning to work following TKR.

Outcomes Interviews were transcribed and analysed using a qualitative thematic approach to identify the factors influencing return to work from the patient's perspective.

Results Three themes were identified that influenced the process of return to work, from the patient's perspective. These were delays in surgical intervention, limited and often inconsistent advice from healthcare professionals regarding return to work, and finally the absence of rehabilitation to optimise patient's recovery and facilitate return to work.

Conclusions There is currently no consistent process to optimise return to work for patients of working age after TKR. The impact of delayed surgical intervention, limited advice regarding return to work, and a lack of work-focused rehabilitation, all contribute to potential delays in successful return to work. There is a need to change the focus of healthcare provision for this cohort of patients, and provide a tailored healthcare intervention to optimise patient outcomes.


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