Self-Reported Health of Severely Obese US Adults With Osteoarthritis



      Severe obesity is associated with complications following arthroplasty, leading surgeons to increasingly counsel patients regarding weight loss. For patients seeking arthroplasty, learning that severe obesity may be a relative contraindication to surgery can create a challenging clinical interaction. We sought to describe the self-reported health of United States (US) adults who had severe obesity and osteoarthritis (OA) to better understand patient perspectives.


      The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a nationally representative sample of the US population, was used to identify adult participants who had a body mass index (BMI) over 35 and an OA diagnosis. In total, 889 participants representing a US population of 9,604,722 were included. Self-reported health was dichotomized as poor to fair versus good to excellent. Analyses were weighted to produce national estimates. Associations between obesity severity and patient characteristics with self-reported health were assessed.


      Of US adults with a BMI over 35 and OA diagnosis, 64% rated their health as good or better. For adults who had a BMI over 45, 55% still reported their health as good or better. The strongest predictors of self-reported health were measures of physical functioning. Only 37% of participants who had much difficulty walking a quarter mile rated their health as good or better compared to 86% without difficulty (P < .001).


      Approximately two-thirds of patients who have severe obesity and OA do not perceive their health as compromised and consider decreased physical function as the primary driver of decreased health. This suggests that counseling about the association between obesity and overall health may improve shared decision making and that patient satisfaction metrics may be difficult to interpret in these clinical situations.


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