Purpose: The aim of this study is to investigate whether total knee arthroplasty (TKA) patients who consulted an occupational medicine specialist (OMS) within 3 months after surgery, return to work (RTW) earlier than patients who did not consult an OMS. Methods: A multi-center prospective cohort study was performed among working TKA patients, aged 18 to 65 years and intending to RTW. Time to RTW was analyzed using Kaplan Meier and Mann Whitney U (MWU), and multiple linear regression analysis was used to adjust for effect modification and confounding. Results: One hundred and eighty-two (182) patients were included with a median age of 59 years [IQR 54–62], including 95 women (52%). Patients who consulted an OMS were less often self-employed but did not differ on other patient and work-related characteristics. TKA patients who consulted an OMS returned to work later than those who did not (median 78 versus 62 days, MWU p < 0.01). The effect of consulting an OMS on time to RTW was modified by patients’ expectations in linear regression analysis (p = 0.05). A median decrease in time of 24 days was found in TKA patients with preoperative high expectations not consulting an OMS (p = 0.03), not in patients with low expectations. Conclusions: Consulting an OMS within 3 months after surgery did not result in a decrease in time to RTW in TKA patients. TKA patients with high expectations did RTW earlier without consulting an OMS. Intervention studies on how OMSs can positively influence a timely RTW, incorporating patients’ preoperative expectations, are needed.
- Occupational medicine specialist (OMS)
- Return to work (RTW)
- Total knee arthroplasty (TKA)