Motivation Affects Return to Work After Knee Replacement

Physical demands of patient's job have only moderate influence on ability to return to work

FRIDAY, Jan. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Patients undergoing total knee arthroplasty are likely to return to work faster if they are highly motivated, regardless of the physical demands of their job, according to a study published in the Jan. 5 issue of The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery.

Joseph F. Styron, Ph.D., of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, and colleagues prospectively studied 162 patients undergoing knee replacement to identify factors influencing time to return to work. Patients completed a questionnaire pre- and postoperatively, assessing the demands of their job and their motivation to return to work.

The researchers found the median time to return to work was 8.9 weeks. Patients with a personal sense of urgency returned to work in half the time taken by others. Other preoperative factors were moderately associated with a faster return to work, including being female, being mentally and physically healthier, being self-employed, and having a handicap-accessible workplace. A slower return to work was moderately associated with having less preoperative pain and having a more physically demanding job. A slow return to work was strongly associated with those patients receiving Workers' Compensation.

"It appears that properly managed, highly motivated patients are capable of returning to work in physically demanding jobs. The implications for advising patients preoperatively are clear: they should be told that returning to work depends more on the patient than his or her type of job," the authors write.

Several of the study authors disclosed financial ties with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.

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