SEATTLEAfter Group Health Cooperative introduced video-based "decision aids" for people with knee and hip arthritis, rates of knee and hip replacement surgeries dropped sharply: by 38 and 26 percent, respectively, over six months. The cost of caring for those patients also declined: by 12 percent to 21 percent, according to an article in the September Health Affairs.
"Decision aids are balanced sources of information that clearly present the evidence-based pros and cons of treatment options for a health condition," explained study leader David E. Arterburn, MD, MPH, a general internist and associate investigator at Group Health Research Institute.
This observational study of 9,515 Group Health patients compared six-month outcomes during two periods: before and after decision aids for knee and hip osteoarthritis started being distributed regularly to Group Health patients with these conditions who were considered candidates for joint replacement.
This is the first time anyone has explored how using decision aids in routine practice can affect health care and costs, Dr. Arterburn said. It is also the first major study of decision aids for knee and hip replacement.
"Our study's real-world findings with the orthopedic decision aids are consistent with results of prior randomized trials of other kinds of decision aids," Dr. Arterburn said. Those trials found that people were more likely to make informed choices that aligned with their preferences when they had access to objective, easily understood, evidenced-based information about the risks and benefits of treatment options. They also tended to choose more conservative, less invasive optionsand to be more satisfied with whatever happened, regardless of whether they chose a surgical intervention.
The findings are important because more than 27 million Americans have osteoarthritis, which can cause severe pain and restrict functioning, including employment,
|Contact: Rebecca Hughes|
Group Health Research Institute