Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research ®

A Publication of The Association of Bone and Joint Surgeons ®

What Demographic and Clinical Characteristics Correlate With Expectations With Trapeziometacarpal Arthritis?

Lana Kang MD, MSc, Joseph Nguyen MPH, Sohaib Z. Hashmi MD, Steve K. Lee MD, Andrew J. Weiland MD, Carol A. Mancuso MD



Pretreatment variables have been shown to be associated with the fulfillment of patient expectations, yet in treating thumb trapeziometacarpal osteoarthritis (OA) it remains unclear how patient expectations correlate with the effectiveness of treatment. An increased understanding of the variables that affect patient expectations enables tailored patient education and patient-provider communication.


(1) Is there a correlation between patient demographics and clinical characteristics, and the expectations the patients have when seeking treatment for trapeziometacarpal OA? (2) What factors are independently associated with the total expectations score and frequency of expecting “back to normal” among patients treated for trapeziometacarpal OA?


Between March 2011 and October 2013, 89 patients of all 96 eligible patients seeking treatment for trapeziometacarpal OA were approached and agreed to participate in this study. Participants completed a validated expectations survey measuring the number of expectations and the degree of improvement expected. Comparative analysis of demographic and clinical characteristics and multivariate regression analysis against patients’ expectations were performed to assess and identify factors that correlate with the number and degree of expectations. Sample size was determined with an a priori power analysis (with 80% power and statistical significance set at p < 0.05), which showed that 88 patients were needed to detect the minimal clinical difference of 12 points in the Michigan Hand Questionnaire; we then increased this by 10% to allow for potential dropouts.


After controlling for potential confounding variables such as age, hand dominance, and work status, the following factors were associated with a higher expectations score: choice of surgery (β = 11.5; 95% CI, 0.7–23.8; p = 0.044), female gender (β = 19.0; 95% CI, 5.3–32.7; p = 0.007), and dominant side affected (β = −41.6; 95% CI, −63.7 to −19.5; p < 0.001). For the frequency of “back to normal” responses, surgical treatment (β = 7.4; 95% CI, 2.3–12.4; p = 0.005) and history of previous injury (β = 8.2; 95% CI, 0.1–16.3; p = 0.047) were independently associated factors after controlling for confounding variables. There were no independent associations with age, marital status, work status, depression or anxiety, or prior contralateral surgery.


Patients whose dominant side was affected, were female, and chose surgical treatment, had higher total expectations. Patients who reported an antecedent injury and chose surgical treatment more frequently expected a return to normal. With identification of these factors, orthopaedic surgeons can recognize patients who are prone to higher expectations, and, thus, have the opportunity to implement efficient pretreatment education. In addition, identification of specific factors enables a focused measure of the effect of these factors on the fulfillment of expectations.

Level of Evidence

Level II, prognostic study.

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