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Time to return to work by occupational class after total hip or knee arthroplasty

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For the increasing number of working-age patients undergoing total hip or total knee arthroplasty (THA/TKA), return to work (RTW) after surgery is crucial. We investigated the association between occupational class and time to RTW after THA or TKA.


Data from the prospective multicentre Longitudinal Leiden Orthopaedics Outcomes of Osteoarthritis Study were used. Questionnaires were completed preoperatively and six and 12 months postoperatively. Time to RTW was defined as days from surgery until RTW (full or partial). Occupational class was preoperatively assessed and categorized into four categories according to the International Standard Classification of Occupations 2008 (blue-/white-collar, high-/low-skilled). Cox regression analyses were conducted separately for THA and TKA patients. Low-skilled blue-collar work was used as the reference category.


A total of 360 THA and 276 TKA patients, preoperatively employed, were included. Patients were mainly high-skilled (THA 57%; TKA 41%) or low-skilled (THA 24%; TKA 38%) white-collar workers. Six months post-THA, RTW rates were 78% of low-skilled blue-collar workers compared to 83% to 86% within other occupational classes, increasing after 12 months to 87% to 90% in all occupational classes. Six months post-TKA, RTW rates were 58% of low-skilled and 64% of high-skilled blue-collar workers compared to 80% to 89% of white-collar workers, and after 12 months 79% of low-skilled blue-collar workers compared to 87% to 92% within other occupational classes. High-skilled white-collar workers (THA: hazard ratio (HR) 2.12 (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.32 to 3.40); TKA: HR 2.31 (95% CI 1.34 to 4.00)) and low-skilled white-collar workers (TKA: HR 1.82 (95% CI 1.04 to 3.18)) had a higher hazard to RTW within six months postoperatively.


Clear differences existed in time to RTW among both THA and TKA patients in each of the groups studied. These findings may help guide tailored patient-specific information during preoperative consultation and advice postoperatively, as well as to create awareness among workers and their employers.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2023;105-B(9):977–984.

Correspondence should be sent to Tamara Kamp. E-mail:

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