Ethnic minorities have fewer joint replacements, study finds

A study of more than 640,000 patient records shows that people from ethnic minorities are less likely to have hip or knee replacement surgery than their white counterparts.


Ashley Blom said one explanation could be the willingness of patients to undergo surgery

Ashley Blom, professor of orthopaedic surgery at the University of Bristol who led the study on behalf of the National Joint Registry, said further investigation was needed to understand this difference.

The National Joint Registry said the research, published on 21 March, was the first large-scale study of ethnicity and joint replacement in the UK. It is based on records of diagnoses in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man over nine years from 2003 to 2012.

According to the research, black people were one third as likely to receive a hip replacement compared to white people, while Asian people were one fifth as likely to have the procedure.

For knee replacement, black people were two thirds as likely and Asian people were just over four fifths as likely to have surgery, compared to white people.

Professor Blom said: ‘One possible explanation could be patient willingness to undergo surgery among the different ethnic groups examined. This is often shaped by cultural factors, doctor/patient communication, and even patient trust in the healthcare system.

‘Also, osteoarthritis of the hip is slightly less common among black and Asian people, which may partially explain the differences.’

Other findings in the study show that

  • non-white men are significantly less likely to receive a joint replacement in comparison to non-white women
  • patients from ethnic minority groups undergoing either hip or knee replacement for osteoarthritis were more likely to be living in poorer areas

Author: Robert Millett


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