AIMS: The aim of this study was to assess the quality of life of patients on the waiting list for a total hip (THA) or knee arthroplasty (KA) during the COVID-19 pandemic. Secondary aims were to assess whether length of time on the waiting list influenced quality of life and rate of deferral of surgery.

METHODS: During the study period (August and September 2020) 843 patients (THA n = 394, KA n = 449) from ten centres in the UK reported their EuroQol five dimension (EQ-5D) scores and completed a waiting list questionnaire (2020 group). Patient demographic details, procedure, and date when listed were recorded. Patients scoring less than zero for their EQ-5D score were defined to be in a health state "worse than death" (WTD). Data from a retrospective cohort (January 2014 to September 2017) were used as the control group.

RESULTS: The 2020 group had a significantly worse EQ-5D score compared to the control group for both THA (p < 0.001) and KA (p < 0.001). Over one-third (35.0%, n = 138/394) of patients waiting for a THA and nearly a quarter (22.3%, n = 100/449) for KA were in a health state WTD, which was significantly greater than the control group (odds ratio 2.30 (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.83 to 2.93) and 2.08 (95% CI 1.61 to 2.70), respectively; p < 0.001). Over 80% (n = 680/843) of the 2020 group felt that their quality of life had deteriorated while waiting. Each additional month spent on the waiting list was independently associated with a decrease in quality of life (EQ-5D: -0.0135, p = 0.004). There were 117 (13.9%) patients who wished to defer their surgery and the main reason for this was health concerns for themselves and or their family (99.1%, n = 116/117).

CONCLUSION: Over one-third of patients waiting for THA and nearly one-quarter waiting for a KA were in a state WTD, which was approaching double that observed prior to the pandemic. Increasing length of time on the waiting list was associated with decreasing quality of life. Level of evidence: Level III retrospective case control study.


Copyright © 2021 The British Editorial Society of Bone & Joint Surgery. This work has been made available on the St. Andrews Repository in accordance with publisher policies or with permission. Permission for further reuse of this content should be sought from the publisher or the rights holder. This is the author created accepted manuscript following peer review and may differ slightly from the final published version. The final published version of this work is available at https://doi.org/10.1302/0301-620X.103B.BJJ-2021-0104.R1

Cite as

Clement, N., Scott, C., Murray, J., Howie, C., Deehan, D. & IMPACT Restart Collaboration 2021, 'The number of patients "worse than death" while waiting for a hip or knee arthroplasty has nearly doubled during the COVID-19 pandemic: a UK nationwide survey', The Bone & Joint Journal, 103-B(4), pp. 672-680. https://doi.org/10.1302/0301-620X.103B.BJJ-2021-0104.R1

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Last updated: 16 June 2022
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