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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Patient and health professional views on rehabilitation practices and outcomes following total hip and knee arthroplasty for osteoarthritis:a focus group study

Marie D Westby12* and Catherine L Backman134

Author Affiliations

1 Rehabilitation Sciences Research Graduate Program, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

2 Mary Pack Arthritis Program, Vancouver Coastal Health, Vancouver, Canada

3 Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

4 Arthritis Research Centre of Canada, Vancouver, Canada

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BMC Health Services Research 2010, 10:119  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-10-119

Published: 11 May 2010



There is worldwide variation in rehabilitation practices after total hip arthroplasty (THA) and total knee arthroplasty (TKA) and no agreement on which interventions will lead to optimal short and long term patient outcomes. As a first step in the development of clinical practice guidelines for post-acute rehabilitation after THA and TKA, we explored experiences and attitudes about rehabilitation practices and outcomes in groups of individuals identified as key stakeholders.


Separate focus groups and interviews were conducted with patients (THA or TKA within past year) and three health professional groups: allied health professionals (AHPs), orthopaedic surgeons, and other physicians, in Canada and the United States. Pairs of moderators led the focus groups using a standardized discussion guide. Discussions were audiotaped and transcribed verbatim. A content analysis within and across groups identified key themes.


Eleven focus groups and eight interviews took place in six sites. Patients (n = 32) varied in age, stage of recovery, and surgical and rehabilitation experiences. Health professionals (n = 44) represented a range of disciplines, practice settings and years of experience. Six key themes emerged: 1) Let's talk (issues related to patient-health professional and inter-professional communication); 2) Expecting the unexpected (observations about unanticipated recovery experiences); 3) It's attitude that counts (the importance of the patient's positive attitude and participation in recovery); 4) It takes all kinds of support (along the continuum of care); 5) Barriers to recovery (at patient, provider and system levels), and 6) Back to normal (reflecting diversity of expected outcomes). Patients offered different, but overlapping views compared to health professionals regarding rehabilitation practices and outcomes following THA and TKA.


Results will inform subsequent phases of guideline development and ensure stakeholders' perspectives shape the priorities, content and scope of the guidelines.