Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research®

, Volume 469, Issue 7, pp 1817–1823

Defining Racial and Ethnic Disparities in THA and TKA

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

DOI: 10.1007/s11999-011-1885-z

Cite this article as:
Irgit, K. & Nelson, C.L. Clin Orthop Relat Res (2011) 469: 1817. doi:10.1007/s11999-011-1885-z



For minority populations in the United States, especially African Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans, healthcare disparities are a serious problem. The literature documents racial and ethnic utilization disparities with regard to THA and TKA.


We therefore (1) defined utilization disparities for total joint arthroplasty in racial and ethnic minorities, (2) delineated patient and provider factors contributing to the lower total joint arthroplasty utilization, and (3) discussed potential interventions and future research that may increase total joint arthroplasty utilization by racial and ethnic minorities.


We searched the MEDLINE database and identified 67 articles, 21 of which we excluded. By searching Google and Google Scholar and reference lists of the included articles, we identified 40 articles for this review. Utilization disparities were defined by documented lower utilization of THA or TKA in specific racial or ethnic groups.


Lower utilization of THA and TKA among some racial and ethnic minority groups (African Americans, Hispanics) is not explained by decreased disease prevalence or disability. At least some utilization disparities are independent of income, geographic location, education, and insurance status. Causal factors related to racial and ethnic disparities may be related in part to patient factors such as health literacy, trust, and preferences. Provider unconscious or conscious biases or beliefs also play a role in at least some healthcare disparities.


Racial and ethnic THA and TKA utilization disparities exist. These disparities are not explained by lower disease prevalence. The existing data suggest patient education, improved health literacy regarding THA and TKA, and a patient-provider relationship leading to improved trust would be beneficial. Research providing a better understanding of the root causes of these disparities is needed.

Copyright information

© The Association of Bone and Joint Surgeons® 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Orthopaedics, Geisinger ClinicGeisinger Medical CenterDanvilleUSA