Effects of Veterans’ Mental Health Service-Connections on Patient-Reported Outcomes Following Total Joint Arthroplasty

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Studies report poor outcomes of elective orthopaedic surgeries among civilian patients receiving Workers’ Compensation (WC). However, little is known about surgical outcomes in veterans receiving similar benefits through the Veterans Affairs (VA) service-connected (SC) disability compensation program.


Veterans undergoing primary total hip arthroplasty (THA) or total knee arthroplasty (TKA) at a VA Medical Center between 07/2019–12/2021 were analyzed by SC status. Outcomes were evaluated using Hip disability and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score for Joint Replacement (HOOS-JR) and Knee injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score for Joint Replacement (KOOS-JR) scores collected preoperatively and at 2- and 12-months postoperatively. Repeated measures mixed models were used to test for the effect of SC on HOOS-JR/KOOS-JR scores, controlling for baseline age, sex, and Charlson Comorbidity Index (CCI). SC and baseline joint function (stratified into quartiles using baseline HOOS-JR/KOOS-JR scores) were analyzed for effects on achieving substantial clinical benefit (SCB) at 12-month follow-up.


The analysis included 67 hips and 142 knees. SC and non-SC (NSC) veterans had similar baseline HOOS-JR/KOOS-JR and CCI. HOOS-JR remained similar between groups through 12 months (79.9 ± 19.2 vs. 82.7 ± 18.8) as did KOOS-JR (70.4 ± 15.6 vs. 74.6 ± 15.3). The designation of any SC and mental health SC reached significance for KOOS-JR (P = 0.034 and P = 0.032, respectively). For HOOS-JR and KOOS-JR, baseline function score quartile significantly influenced final score (P < 0.001), with patients in the lowest quartiles (i.e., worst baseline function) exhibiting significantly greater improvements than patients in higher quartiles.


Mental health SC and high preoperative functional status are variables that may have unfavorable influences on self-reported outcomes of TKA in veteran patients. SC status does not appear to influence the outcomes of THA or the likelihood of achieving SCB after either THA or TKA. Regardless of SC status, most veterans can expect significant clinical improvements after total joint arthroplasty.



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