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Open Access Research article

Reduced rates of primary joint replacement for osteoarthritis in Italian and Greek migrants to Australia: the Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study

Yuanyuan Wang1, Julie A Simpson23, Anita E Wluka14, Donna M Urquhart1, Dallas R English23, Graham G Giles3, Stephen Graves56 and Flavia M Cicuttini1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Alfred Hospital, Commercial Road, Melbourne, VIC 3004, Australia

2 Centre for Molecular, Environmental, Genetic and Analytic Epidemiology, School of Population Health, University of Melbourne, Swanston Street, Carlton, VIC 3053, Australia

3 Cancer Epidemiology Centre, The Cancer Council Victoria, Rathdowne Street, Carlton, VIC 3053, Australia

4 Baker Heart and Diabetes Research Institute, Commercial Road, Melbourne, VIC 3004, Australia

5 Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Melbourne, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Gratten Street, Parkville, VIC 3050, Australia

6 AOA National Joint Replacement Registry, Discipline of Public Health, School of Population Health & Clinical Practice, University of Adelaide, North Terrace, Adelaide, SA 5005, Australia

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Arthritis Research & Therapy 2009, 11:R86  doi:10.1186/ar2721

Published: 8 June 2009

Abstract

Introduction

Racial and ethnic disparities in rates of total joint replacement have been described, but little work has been done in well-established migrant groups. The aim of this study was to compare the rates of primary joint replacement for osteoarthritis for Italian and Greek migrants to Australia and Australian-born individuals.

Methods

Eligible participants (n = 39,023) aged 27 to 75 years, born in Italy, Greece, Australia and the United Kingdom, were recruited for the Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study between 1990 and 1994. Primary hip and knee replacement for osteoarthritis between 2001 and 2005 was determined by data linkage to the Australian Orthopaedic Association National Joint Replacement Registry.

Results

Participants born in Italy and Greece had a lower rate of primary joint replacement compared with those born in Australia (hazard ratio [HR] 0.32, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.26 to 0.39, P < 0.001), independent of age, gender, body mass index, education level, and physical functioning. This lower rate was observed for joint replacements performed in private hospitals (HR 0.17, 95% CI 0.13 to 0.23), but not for joint replacements performed in public hospitals (HR 0.96, 95% CI 0.72 to 1.29).

Conclusions

People born in Italy and Greece had a lower rate of primary joint replacement for osteoarthritis in this cohort study compared with Australian-born people, which could not simply be explained by factors such as education level, physical functioning, and weight. Although differential access to health care found in the population may explain the different rates of joint replacement, it may be that social factors and preferences regarding treatment or different rates of progression to end-stage osteoarthritis in this population are important to ethnic disparity.