Symposium: AAOS/ORS/ABJS Musculoskeletal Healthcare Disparities Research Symposium

Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research®

, Volume 469, Issue 7, pp 1824-1828

First online:

Examining Sex and Gender Disparities in Total Joint Arthroplasty

  • Wendy M. NovicoffAffiliated withDepartments of Orthopaedic Surgery and Public Health Sciences, University of Virginia School of Medicine Email author 
  • , Khaled J. SalehAffiliated withDepartment of Surgery, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine

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Total joint arthroplasty (TJA) is remarkably successful for treating osteoarthritis: most patients see substantial gains in function. However, there are considerable geographic, racial, and gender variations in the utilization of these procedures. The reasons for these differences are complex.


We examined sex and gender disparities in TJA.


Through Medline/PubMed searches, we identified 632 articles and from these selected 61 for our review.

Where are we now?

A number of factors might explain sex and gender disparities in TJA: underrepresentation in clinical trials, differences in willingness to undergo surgery, pain responses to underlying disease and treatment, patient-physician relationships, treatment preferences, provider-level factors such as physician-patient communication style, and system-level factors such as access to specialist care. Since women have a higher prevalence of arthritis and degenerative joint diseases and overall demand for these procedures will continue to grow, the need to understand why there is a gap in utilization based on gender is imperative.

Where do we need to go?

Understanding what exactly is meant by “disparity” is essential because it is possible anatomic factors may have different impacts on utilization from cultural factors. Ideally, information about these factors should be integrated into the decision-making process so that patients and providers can make the most informed choice about whether or not to undergo the procedure.

How do we get there?

To better understand all of the potential reasons for how anatomic and cultural factors related to sex and gender might impact decision-making and overall utilization of TJA, more research focusing on these factors must be designed and carried out.