An exploratory study of primary care physician decision making regarding total joint arthroplasty

Dennis C. Ang, Kathleen Thomas, Kurt Kroenke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: For patients to experience the benefits of total joint arthroplasty (TJA), primary care physicians (PCPs) ought to know when to refer a patient for TJA and/or optimize nonsurgical treatment options for osteoarthritis (OA). OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the ability of physicians to make clinical treatment decisions. DESIGN AND PARTICIPANTS: A survey, using ten clinical vignettes, of PCPs in Indiana. MEASUREMENTS: A test score (range 0 to 10) was computed based on the number of correct answers consistent with published explicit appropriateness criteria for TJA. We also collected demographic characteristics and physicians' perceived success rate of TJA in terms of pain relief and functional improvement. RESULTS: There were 149 PCPs (response rate = 61%) who participated. The mean test score was 6.5 ± 1.5. Only 17% correctly identified the published success rate of TJA (i.e., ≥90%). In multivariate analysis, the only physician-related variables associated with test score were ethnicity, board status, and perceived success rate of TJA. Physicians who were white (P = .001), board-certified (P = .04), and perceived a higher success rate of TJA (P = .004) had higher test scores. CONCLUSIONS: PCP knowledge with respect to guideline-concordant care for OA could be improved, specifically in deciding when to consider TJA versus optimizing nonsurgical options. Moreover, the perception of the success rate of TJA may influence a clinician's decision making.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)74-79
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of general internal medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2007


  • Decision making
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Primary care physicians
  • Total joint arthroplasty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Medicine(all)

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