University of Toronto Magazine University of Toronto Magazine

Painful Truth

Study shows women with severe arthritis are half as likely to undergo surgery than men

Although women are three times more likely than men to have severe arthritis that would benefit from joint replacement, they are also half as likely to undergo the surgery or to have even discussed it with their doctors. Dr. Gillian Hawker, lead author of the study by researchers at U of T and at Sunnybrook and Women’s College Health Sciences Centre, believes much of the problem lies in the interaction between a woman and her primary care physician. “Physicians may be referring women less often or later than men, but it may also be that women aren’t properly articulating their concerns to their doctors,” she says. Hawker notes that 40 per cent of women with advanced arthritis live alone as compared to 10 per cent of men, raising concerns that women may worry who will pay their bills and take care of them after their surgery.

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