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Med Decis Making. 2002 May-Jun;22(3):272-8.

"You're perfect for the procedure! Why don't you want it?" Elderly arthritis patients' unwillingness to consider total joint arthroplasty surgery: a qualitative study.

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  • 1Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.



To explore the process by which elderly persons make decisions about a surgical treatment, total joint arthroplasty (TJA).


In-depth interviews with 17 elderly individuals identified as potential candidates for TJA who were unwilling to undergo the procedure.


For the majority of participants, decision making involved ongoing deliberation of the surgical option, often resulting in a deferral of the treatment decision. Three assumptions may constrain elderly persons from making a decision about surgery. First, some participants viewed osteoarthritis not as a disease but as a normal part of aging. Second, despite being candidates for TJA according to medical criteria, many participants believed candidacy required a level of pain and disability higher than their current level. Third, some participants believed that if they either required or would benefit from TJA, their physicians would advise surgery.


These assumptions may limit the possibility for shared decision making.


Emphasis should be directed toward thinking about ways in which discussions about TJA might be initiated (and by whom) and considering how patients' views on and knowledge of osteoarthritis in general might be addressed.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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