Reasons for Treatment Choices in Knee and Hip Osteoarthritis: A Qualitative Study.

Conservative treatment modalities in osteoarthritis (OA) of the hip or knee are underused, whereas the demand for surgery is rising substantially. To improve the use of conservative treatment modalities, a more in-depth understanding of the reasons for patients’ treatment choices is required. This study identifies the reasons for choice of treatment in patients with hip or knee OA. Semistructured in-depth interviews with 24 OA patients were held. Stratified purposive sampling was used to enrich data variation. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and subsequently coded using a thematic approach. Two independent researchers reflected on, compared, discussed, and adjusted the coding.

Various treatment modalities were discussed by respondents: medication, exercise, physical therapy, injections, surgery, complementary, and alternative treatment. Four key themes underlying the choice for or against a treatment modality for OA were identified: 1) treatment characteristics: expectations about its effectiveness and risks, the degree to which it can be personalized to a patient’s needs and wishes, and the accessibility of a treatment; 2) personal investment in terms of money and time; 3) personal circumstances: age, body weight, comorbidities, and previous experience with a treatment; and 4) support and advice from the patient’s social environment and health care providers.

The 4 identified key themes enhance the insight of health care providers into the widespread reasons influencing patients’ treatment choices for knee or hip OA. This knowledge can be used in clinical practice to aid shared decision making, which may lead to optimized treatment choices for both conservative and surgical treatment.