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Reflecting on and managing the emotional impact of prosthetic joint infections on orthopaedic surgeons—a qualitative study

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To investigate the experience and emotional impact of prosthetic joint infection (PJI) on orthopaedic surgeons and identify holistic strategies to improve the management of PJI and protect surgeons’ wellbeing.


In total, 18 prosthetic joint surgeons in Sweden were recruited using a purposive sampling strategy. Content analysis was performed on transcripts of individual in-person interviews conducted between December 2017 and February 2018.


PJI had a negative emotional impact on Swedish surgeons. Many felt guilt, stress, and a sense of failure, and several aspects of PJI management were associated with psychosocial challenges. Peer support was reported as the most important coping strategy as was collaborating with infectious disease specialists.


Our study affirms that there is a negative emotional impact of PJI on surgeons which can be minimized by improved peer support and working in multidisciplinary teams. Based on the surgeons’ experiences we have identified desired improvements that may facilitate the management of PJI. These may also be applicable within other surgical specialties dealing with postoperative infections, but need to be evaluated for their efficacy.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2020;102-B(6):736–743.

Correspondence should be sent to Karin Svensson; E-mail:

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