Catastrophic thinking about pain as a predictor of length of hospital stay after total knee arthroplasty: a prospective study


This study prospectively investigates whether catastrophizing thinking is associated with length of hospital stay after total knee arthroplasty. Forty-three patients who underwent primary total knee arthroplasty were included in this study. Prior to their operation all patients were asked to complete the pain catastrophizing scale, and a Western Ontario McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis index. A multiple regression analysis identified pain catastrophizing thinking and age as predictors of hospital stay after total knee arthroplasty. Patients with a higher degree of pain catastrophizing prior to the total knee arthroplasty and those with a higher age have a significantly greater risk for a longer hospital stay. Therefore, the results of this study indicate that the pre-operative level of pain catastrophizing in patients determine, in combination with other variables, the length and inter-individual variation in hospital stay after total knee arthroplasty. Reducing catastrophizing thinking about pain through cognitive-behavioral techniques is likely to reduce levels of fear after total knee arthroplasty. As a result, pain and function immediately post-operative might improve, leading to a decrease in length of hospital stay. Although during the last decades the duration of hospital stay is significantly reduced, this study shows that this can be improved when taking into account the contribution of psychological factors such as pain catastrophizing.

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Correspondence to Erik Witvrouw.

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Witvrouw, E., Pattyn, E., Almqvist, K.F. et al. Catastrophic thinking about pain as a predictor of length of hospital stay after total knee arthroplasty: a prospective study. Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc 17, 1189–1194 (2009).

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  • Total knee arthroplasty
  • Length of hospital stay
  • Pain catastrophizing