A new research has highlighted that personal motivation is the key factor in determining the length of time it takes for a patient to return to work following a total knee replacement.
"Although the physical demands of a patient's job certainly have some influence on their ability to return to work following a primary total knee replacement, the patient's characteristics, particularly motivation, play a more important role," said study author Joseph F. Styron, of Case Western Reserve University.
The researchers asked 162 patients, who were scheduled for a total knee arthroplasty (TKA), to complete questionnaires assessing their physical status, ability to perform job responsibilities, physical demands at work and other workplace characteristics, as well as questions about their motivation and desire to return to work.
The study considered both part-time and full-time work scenarios, and also included patients who were self-employed. The median time to return to work for patients in the study was 8.9 weeks.
Styron noted that a patient's individual motivation to return to work may rely on a more complicated combination of factors, including the value an individual places on the role of work, as well as a patient's commitment to his or her particular job.
Other factors that predicted an earlier return to work included:
Having a less-physically-demanding job;
Being employed at a handicap-accessible workplace; and
Having a stable preoperative emotional state.
The authors noted that all of these factors were similar to the factors found in previous literature to be associated with returning to work following other orthopaedic procedures or injuries.
Surprisingly, the study results indicated the physical demands of a patient's job played a minor role in their return to work, especially for patients who were able to modify their work responsibilities to compensate for their knee surgery.
Although patients with higher physical demands took slightly longer to return to work, the effect was modest, the study noted.
Personal financial status and social motivations also did not appear to have an influence on how quickly a patient returned to work.
The study is published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery (JBJS).