How do surgeons' trade-off between patient outcomes and risk of complications in total knee arthroplasty? a discrete choice experiment in Australia Academic Article uri icon


  • ObjectiveTo measure the trade-off between risk of complications versus patient improvement in pain and function in orthopaedic surgeons’ decisions about whether to undertake total knee arthroplasty (TKA).MethodsA discrete choice experiment asking surgeons to make choices between experimentally-designed scenarios describing different levels of operative risk and dimensions of pain and physical function. Variation in preferences and trade-offs according to surgeon-specific characteristics were also examined.ResultsThe experiment was completed by a representative sample of 333 orthopaedic surgeons (n=333): median age 52 years, 94% male, 91% fully qualified. Orthopaedic surgeons were willing to accept substantial increases in absolute risk associated with TKA surgery for greater improvements in a patient’s pain and function. The maximum risk surgeons were willing to accept was 40% for reoperation and 102% for the need to seek further treatment from a general practitioner or specialist in return for a change from postoperative severe night-time pain at baseline to no night-time pain at 12 months. With a few exceptions, surgeon-specific characteristics were not associated with how much risk a surgeon is willing to accept in a patient undergoing TKA.ConclusionThis is the first study to quantify risk-benefit trade-offs among orthopaedic surgeons performing TKA, using a discrete choice experiment. This study provides insight into the risk tolerance of surgeons.


publication date

  • 2019