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Arthritis Care Res. 1998 Dec;11(6):469-78.

Preoperative education for total hip and knee replacement patients.

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Multipurpose Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases Center, Harvard Medical School, USA.



Psychoeducational preparation is known to improve postoperative outcome. We tested two common psychoeducational procedures in elderly orthopedic patients, examining how best to match interventions to patients by psychological type.


Two hundred twenty-two elderly patients undergoing total hip or knee replacement were randomly assigned to 1) a slide-tape with information on the postoperative, in-hospital rehabilitation experience, or 2) training in Benson's Relaxation Response with a bedside audiotape, in a 2 x 2 factorial design.


The relaxation response did not influence postoperative outcomes. The educational intervention reduced length of stay and pain medication use for patients who exhibited most denial (tendency to avoid thinking about unpleasant events), and reduced postoperative anxiety and cognitive errors on the Mini-Mental State Exam for patients with most baseline anxiety. There was no effect on postoperative pain.


The importance of attending to the patient's psychological state and level of preparation before orthopedic surgery is reinforced. Patients who exhibit most denial and highest anxiety may benefit from educational interventions, but patients' directly expressing desire for information may be a poor guide in deciding which patients would benefit, compared with more formal psychological testing for denial and anxiety.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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