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Association of psychological status and patient-reported physical outcome measures in joint arthroplasty: a lack of divergent validity

Johannes M Giesinger1, Markus S Kuster2, Henrik Behrend3 and Karlmeinrad Giesinger3*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Innsbruck Medical University, Anichstr, 35, Innsbruck, A-6020, Austria

2 Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Royal Perth Hospital, University of Western Australia, Wellington Street, Perth, WA, 6000, Australia

3 Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Kantonsspital St. Gallen, Rorschacherstrasse 95, CH- 9000 St., Gallen, Switzerland

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Health and Quality of Life Outcomes 2013, 11:64  doi:10.1186/1477-7525-11-64

Published: 19 April 2013



Patient-reported outcome measures have become a well-recognised part of outcome assessment in orthopaedic surgery. These questionnaires claim to measure joint-specific dimensions like pain, function in activities of daily living, joint awareness or stiffness. Interference of the patient’s psychological status with these orthopaedic questionnaires however may make accurate interpretation difficult.


We recruited 356 patients after unilateral, primary THA or TKA and performed a postal survey including the Brief Symptom Inventory (psychological distress measure), the Catastrophising Scale (from the Coping Strategies Questionnaire), the WOMAC score (Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index) and the Forgotten Joint Score – 12 (FJS-12). Associations between the different questionnaires were determined calculating Pearson correlation coefficients. Two multiple linear regression models were used to investigate the impact of socio-demographic variables, clinical variables and of the psychological scales (BSI and Catastrophising Scale) separately for the WOMAC score and the FJS-12.


WOMAC-Total score showed strong correlation to Catastrophising (r = 0.79), BSI-Somatisation (r = 0.63) and BSI-GSI (r = 0.54). The FJS-12 demonstrated modest to strong correlation with Catastrophising (r = −0.60), BSI-Somatisation (r = −0.49) and the BSI-GSI (Global Severity Index) (r = −0.44). BSI-GSI and Catastrophising explained 54.3% of variance in a multivariate regression model for the WOMAC score. The same two scales explained 30.0% of variance for the FJS-12.


There is a strong relationship between psychological status and orthopaedic outcome. The scale names of orthopaedic outcome measures suggest to measure specific dimensions like pain, stiffness, function or joint awareness. In fact they largely include patient’s psychological status indicating poor divergent validity.