The impact of waiting time for orthopaedic consultation on pain levels in individuals with osteoarthritis: A systematic review and meta-analysis
Osteoarthritis and Cartilage
School of Medical and Health Sciences
Victorian Higher Education State Investment Fund
Objective: Time spent waiting for access to orthopaedic specialist health services has been suggested to result in increased pain in individuals with osteoarthritis (OA). We assessed whether time spent on an orthopaedic waiting list resulted in a detrimental effect on pain levels in patients with knee or hip OA. Methods: We searched Ovid MEDLINE, EMBASE and EBSCOhost databases from inception until September 2021. Eligible articles included individuals with OA on an orthopaedic waitlist and not receiving active treatment, and reported pain measures at two or more time points. Random-effects meta-analysis was used to estimate the pooled effect of waiting time on pain levels. Meta-regression was used to determine predictors of effect size. Results: Thirty-three articles were included (n = 2,490 participants, 67 ± 3 years and 62% female). The range of waiting time was 2 weeks to 2 years (20.8 ± 18.8 weeks). There was no significant change in pain over time (effect size = 0.082, 95 % CI = − 0.009, 0.172), nor was the length of time associated with longitudinal changes in pain over time (β = 0.004, 95 % CI = − 0.005, 0.012). Body mass index was a significant predictor of pain (β = − 0.043, 95 % CI = − 0.079, 0.006), whereas age and sex were not. Conclusions: Pain remained stable for up to 1 year in patients with OA on an orthopaedic waitlist. Future research is required to understand whether pain increases in patients waiting longer than 1 year.