Minimal important change thresholds change over time after knee and hip arthroplasty


OBJECTIVES: The minimal important change (MIC) reflects what patients, on average, consider the smallest improvement in a score that is important to them. MIC thresholds may vary across patient populations, interventions used, posttreatment time points and derivation methods. We determine and compare MIC thresholds for the Oxford Knee Score and Oxford Hip Score (OKS/OHS) at 3 months postoperatively to 12- and 24-month thresholds in patients undergoing knee or hip arthroplasty.

STUDY DESIGN AND SETTING: This cohort study used data from patients undergoing total knee arthroplasty (TKA), unicompartmental knee arthroplasty (UKA), or total hip arthroplasty (THA) at a public hospital between February 2016 and February 2023. At 3, 12, and 24 months postoperatively, patients responded to the OKS/OHS and a 7-point anchor question determining experienced changes in knee or hip pain and functional limitations. We used the adjusted predictive modeling method that accounts for the proportion improved and the reliability of the anchor question to determine MIC thresholds and their mean differences between time points.

RESULTS: Complete data were obtained from 695/957 (73%), 1179/1703 (69%), and 1080/1607 (67%) patients undergoing TKA, 474/610 (78%), 438/603 (73%), and 355/507 (70%) patients undergoing UKA, and 965/1315 (73%), 978/1409 (69%), and 1059/1536 (69%) patients undergoing THA at 3, 12, and 24 months, respectively. The median age ranged from 68 to 70 years and 55% to 60% were females. The proportions improved ranged between 83% and 95%. The OKS/OHS MIC thresholds were 0.1, 4.2, and 5.1 for TKA, 1.8, 5.6, and 3.4 for UKA, and 1.3, 6.1, and 6.0 for THA at 3, 12, and 24 months postoperatively, respectively. The reliability ranged between 0.64 and 0.82, and the MIC values increased between three and 12 months but not between 12 and 24 months.

CONCLUSION: Any absence of deterioration in pain and function is considered important at 3 months after knee or hip arthroplasty. Increasing thresholds over time suggest patients raise their standards for what constitutes a minimal important improvement over the first postoperative year. Besides improving our understanding of patients' views on postoperative outcomes, these clinical thresholds may aid in interpreting registry-based treatment outcome evaluations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111316
JournalJournal of Clinical Epidemiology
Pages (from-to)111316
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 6 Mar 2024


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