Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Health Sciences


Rehabilitation Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Carl G. Mattacola

Second Advisor

Dr. Robert A. English


Patient expectations have been shown to be a major predictor of outcomes. Furthermore, fulfilled expectations have been linked to increased patient satisfaction and rehabilitation adherence. Expectations may be influenced by a variety of factors, including patient characteristics, pre-operative function, or disease characteristics. However, it is currently unknown what factors and to what degree they may influence patient expectations prior to knee surgery. Furthermore, understanding the importance and values of those expectations for recovery using qualitative methods has not previously been conducted in this patient population.

A mixed methods design was used. Twenty-one participants scheduled to undergo cartilage repair of the knee, including autologous chondrocyte implantation, osteochondral allograft transplantation, or meniscal transplant were included. During their pre-operative visit, participants completed an expectations survey (Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) Knee Surgery Expectations Survey) and the Knee Injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score (KOOS) as a measure of functional ability. At their first post-operative visit, patients completed the Self-Efficacy for Rehabilitation Scale (SER). Rehabilitation adherence was collected by the participant’s rehabilitation provider. A selected sample of 6 participants participated in a semi-structured interview 6 months following surgery to better understand their expectations for recovery. Pearson correlation coefficients were used to determine relationships between expectations and KOOS scores, SER scores, and measures of adherence.

Results demonstrated that patients have moderate expectations for recovery and these expectations were positively associated with pre-operative pain, activities of daily living, and knee-related quality of life as measured by the KOOS. In addition, a negative relationship was found between patient expectations and adherence with home exercises, use of a brace, and weight-bearing restrictions. Four qualitative themes emerged as participants’ described how previous recovery experiences shaped their recovery following cartilage repair of the knee. Patient education, pre-habilitation, and the use of psychological skills during rehabilitation may help to manage patient expectations, improve rehabilitation adherence, and assist clinicians in providing more focused and individualized patient care.