• access to health care;
  • effectiveness;
  • health-related quality of life;
  • osteoarthritis;
  • randomized clinical trial


Objective:  This prospective randomized study assessed the effect of waiting time (WT) on health outcomes in Finnish patients admitted to hospital for primary total hip replacement (THR).

Methods:  A total of 395 consecutive patients with a need for a primary THR because of osteoarthritis and who were placed on the waiting list between August 2002 and November 2003. After placement on the waiting list, the patients were randomly assigned to a short WT (≤3 months) group (n = 174) or a nonfixed WT group (n = 221). The patients completed self-administered questionnaires at the time of placing on the waiting list and at hospital admission. Health-related quality of life was measured by the generic 15D instrument. Hip pain and function were measured by the patient self-report Harris hip score (HHS).

Results:  Of the 395 patients, 312 (79%) completed the follow-up (140 patients with short and 172 with nonfixed WT). At admission, the mean 15D scores for patients with short and nonfixed WT were 0.784 and 0.783, respectively. In the intention-to-treatment analysis, the difference between the groups (Δ0.001, 95% confidence interval [CI]: –0.019 to 0.021) was not statistically significant or clinically important. The mean self-report HHS in patients with short WT was 43.5, and among those with nonfixed WT was 41.9. The difference (Δ1.6, 95% CI: –1.77 to 4.87) was not statistically significant.

Conclusions:  Both generic and disease-specific measures revealed that longer WTs did not result in poorer health status at admission.