Psychological factors such as depression, pain catastrophizing, kinesiophobia, pain anxiety, and more negative illness perceptions are associated with worse pain and function in patients at the start of treatment for de Quervain’s tenosynovitis. Longitudinal studies have found symptoms of depression and pain catastrophizing at baseline were associated with worse pain after treatment. It is important to study patients opting for surgery for their condition because patients should choose surgical treatment based on their values rather than misconceptions. Psychological factors associated with worse patient-reported outcomes from surgery for de Quervain’s tenosynovitis should be identified and addressed preoperatively so surgeons can correct any misunderstandings about the condition.
What preoperative psychosocial factors (depression, anxiety, pain catastrophizing, illness perception, and patient expectations) are associated with pain and function 3 months after surgical treatment of de Quervain’s tenosynovitis after controlling for demographic characteristics?
This was a prospective cohort study of 164 patients who underwent surgery for de Quervain’s tenosynovitis between September 2017 and October 2018 performed by 20 hand surgeons at 18 centers. Our database included 326 patients who underwent surgery for de Quervain’s tenosynovitis during the study period. Of these, 62% (201 of 326) completed all baseline questionnaires and 50% (164 of 326) also completed patient-reported outcomes at 3 months postoperatively. We found no difference between those included and those not analyzed in terms of age, sex, duration of symptoms, smoking status, and workload. The mean ± SD age of the patients was 52 ± 14 years, 86% (141 of 164) were women, and the mean duration of symptoms was 13 ± 19 months. Patients completed the Patient-Rated Wrist Evaluation (PRWE), the VAS for pain and function, the Patient Health Questionnaire for symptoms of anxiety and depression, the Pain Catastrophizing Scale, the Credibility/Expectations Questionnaire, and the Brief Illness Perceptions questionnaire at baseline. Patients also completed the PRWE and VAS for pain and function at 3 months postoperatively. We used a hierarchical multivariable linear regression model to investigate the relative contribution of patient demographics and psychosocial factors to the pain and functional outcome at 3 months postoperatively.
After adjusting for demographic characteristics, psychosocial factors, and baseline PRWE score, we found that only the patient’s expectations of treatment and how long their illness would last were associated with the total PRWE score at 3 months postoperatively. More positive patient expectations of treatment were associated with better patient-reported pain and function at 3 months postoperatively (ß = -2.0; p < 0.01), while more negative patient perceptions of how long their condition would last were associated with worse patient-reported pain and function (timeline ß = 2.7; p < 0.01). The final model accounted for 31% of the variance in the patient-reported outcome at 3 months postoperatively.
Patient expectations and illness perceptions are associated with patient-reported pain and functional outcomes after surgical decompression for de Quervain’s tenosynovitis. Addressing misconceptions about de Quervain’s tenosynovitis in terms of the consequences for patients and how long their symptoms will last should allow patients to make informed decisions about the treatment that best matches their values. Prospective studies are needed to investigate whether addressing patient expectations and illness perceptions, with decision aids for example, can improve patient-reported pain and function postoperatively in those patients who still choose surgery for de Quervain’s tenosynovitis.
Level of Evidence
Level III, therapeutic study.