Patient gender affects the referral and recommendation for total joint arthroplasty.
Borkhoff CM., Hawker GA., Wright JG.
BACKGROUND: Rates of use of total joint arthroplasty among appropriate and willing candidates are lower in women than in men. A number of factors may explain this gender disparity, including patients' preferences for surgery, gender bias influencing physicians' clinical decision-making, and the patient-physician interaction. QUESTIONS/PURPOSES: We propose a framework of how patient gender affects the patient and physician decision-making process of referral and recommendation for total joint arthroplasty and consider potential interventions to close the gender gap in total joint arthroplasty utilization. METHODS: The process involved in the referral and recommendation for total joint arthroplasty involves eight discrete steps. A systematic review is used to describe the influence of patient gender and related clinical and nonclinical factors at each step. WHERE ARE WE NOW?: Patient gender plays an important role in the process of referral and recommendation for total joint arthroplasty. Female gender primarily affects Steps 3 through 8, suggesting barriers unique to women exist in the patient-physician interaction. WHERE DO WE NEED TO GO?: Developing and evaluating interventions that improve the quality of the patient-physician interaction should be the focus of future research. HOW DO WE GET THERE?: Potential interventions include using decision support tools that facilitate shared decision-making between patients and their physicians and promoting cultural competency and shared decision-making skills programs as a core component of medical education. Increasing physicians' acceptance and awareness of the unconscious biases that may be influencing their clinical decision-making may require additional skills programs.