Understanding ethnic disparities in the use of total joint arthroplasty: Application of the health belief model




The Health Belief Model holds promise in understanding patient-related factors that may explain disparities in the use of total joint arthroplasty (TJA). We examined whether patients' health beliefs differ between African Americans and whites.


In a primary care clinic setting, 691 African Americans and whites with at least a moderately severe degree of osteoarthritis (OA) completed the Arthritis-related Health Belief Instrument. The instrument has 4 scales: perceived benefits of TJA, perceived barriers to obtaining TJA, perceived severity of arthritis, and perceived susceptibility of arthritis to worsen.


The sample (40% women) consisted of 263 (38%) African Americans and 428 (62%) whites who were similar with respect to education, amount of insurance coverage, number of comorbidities, and self-report OA severity score. The African American group was younger, had less men, had more participants who reported an annual income <$15,000, and had a higher body mass index than whites. After controlling for confounders, African Americans were almost 50% (odds ratio [OR] 0.60, 95% confidence interval [95% CI] 0.42–0.86, P = 0.005) as likely as whites to perceive that TJA is beneficial or helpful for their arthritis. Furthermore, African Americans were 70% (OR 1.7, 95% CI 1.18–2.44, P = 0.004) more likely than whites to recognize barriers (e.g., risky, etc.) to TJA. Race was not associated with either the perceived severity or the perceived susceptibility of arthritis to worsen.


Among patients with at least moderately severe OA, African Americans were significantly less likely than whites to perceive the benefits of TJA and more likely to recognize barriers to TJA.