Asian-Americans, blacks more skeptical of joint replacement surgery than whites, study finds

Blacks and Asian-Americans perceive joint replacement surgery as a riskier procedure than whites do, according to a study published in the August issue of the Journal of Rheumatology, Reuters Health reports.

For the study, lead researcher Rajiv Ghandi of the University of Toronto and colleagues surveyed 1,609 patients who were scheduled to receive hip or knee replacement surgery. All participants were given identical information concerning the potential risks and benefits of the procedure and were being treated by one of two surgeons at the same hospital.

After patients received information about the procedure, researchers asked them whether they believed the procedure would be successful and whether they thought they would have complications. Researchers found that black and Asian-American patients reported experiencing greater pain and disability before the procedure than whites, which could be related to such individuals delaying the procedure because of skepticism about it, according to Reuters Health. Previous studies have found that blacks with serious arthritis are less likely than whites to have joint replacement surgery.

The reasons for the findings are unclear, but researchers said minorities' unfamiliarity with joint replacement surgery likely is a contributor. Other studies have found that whites are more likely than blacks to have heard of the surgery or to have known someone who had undergone the procedure. Researchers suggest that doctors should better educate and explain the benefits and risks of the procedure to patients. Researchers said that "simply communicating the evidence for the effectiveness of a treatment to a patient may not be enough to alleviate their uncertainty about surgery" (Reuters Health, 9/5).

An abstract of the study is available online.

Kaisernetwork.orgThis article is republished with kind permission from our friends at The Kaiser Family Foundation. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery of in-depth coverage of health policy developments, debates and discussions. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Copyright 2008 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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