Painful Reminder for the Poor
Rich more likely to have hip or knee joint replacement
MONDAY, Dec. 30, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- Poor people are much less likely than people with more money to have hip or knee replacement surgery, even though they want to have the procedure.
That's the finding of a Canadian study in the December issue of Arthritis and Rheumatism.
The study by University of Toronto researchers found that people with low education or incomes were twice as likely to have severe hip or joint arthritis, but they were only half as likely to be on a waiting list for joint replacement surgery, compared to people who were wealthier and had more education.
That was despite the fact that the people with lower incomes or less education weren't any more likely than wealthier, better-educated people to have medical problems that prevented them from being able to have the joint replacement surgery.
The researchers identified 3,307 people with moderate to severe hip or knee problems during a 1996-98 survey and followed those people since then. The people were asked about their income and education levels, arthritis severity, daily ability to function, and any medical problems that might prevent them from having joint replacement surgery.
The people were also interviewed about their willingness to consider having hip or knee replacement surgery.
The study found that 45 percent of the people with less than a high school education were ideal candidates for joint replacement surgery, compared with 30 percent of the people with post-secondary education.
However, only 5 percent of those in the lower education/income group were on a waiting list for joint replacement surgery, compared to 12 percent of the people in the higher education/income group.
The study also found that women were half as likely as men to have ever discussed joint replacement surgery with their doctors. Low-income women were 80 percent less likely than anyone else in the study group to have ever talked with their doctor about joint replacement surgery.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has more about joint replacement surgery.