The Effect of Psychosocial Factors on Outcomes in Patients With Rotator Cuff Tears: A Systematic Review

Patrick Kennedy, Rajat Joshi, Aman Dhawan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Purpose: To determine whether psychosocial factors affect patient-reported outcomes in individuals with rotator cuff tears or after rotator cuff repair. Methods: A systematic review was conducted using a computerized search of the PubMed and Web of Science electronic databases in adherence with the PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses) guidelines. Articles were then evaluated based on inclusion and exclusion criteria. The Newcastle-Ottawa Scale was used to assess study quality and risk of bias. Because of study heterogeneity and varied levels of evidence, meta-analysis was not possible. Results: Of 980 identified articles, 15 met the inclusion and exclusion criteria. In those reported, the visual analog scale correlation with distress scales ranged from –0.476 to 0.334, depending on outcome, with a trend toward increased pain in patients with distress. The depression subscale of the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale was negatively correlated with the American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons score in 2 of 3 studies (–0.309 to 0.235). Six studies evaluated the presence of psychosocial factors and their correlation with patient-reported outcomes prior to surgery. These showed a significant correlation between rotator cuff pathology and psychological distress (i.e., depression or anxiety) as identified on standardized patient-reported outcome measures. Nine studies evaluated psychosocial factors either before and after surgery or only postoperatively. Of these 9 studies, 3 found no statistically significant differences in outcomes as related to psychosocial factors. In contrast, 6 of 9 reported an association between outcomes and psychosocial factors. Moreover, 2 of these 6 studies reported a direct relationship between patient expectations and outcomes, with 1 of these 2 studies finding that higher expectations improved baseline scores on the mental component summary of the Short Form 36 (r = 0.307). One study found significant differences in mental status in patients with rotator cuff tears based on age and sex. Conclusions: This review found that most studies support that psychosocial factors do significantly influence the level of disability and pain experienced by patients preoperatively; however, 3 of 9 studies showed significant improvements in postoperative pain and function even with significant psychosocial confounders. These studies, however, do support that there is a direct relation between patient expectations and outcomes in rotator cuff surgery. Level of Evidence: Level IV, systematic review of Level I through IV studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2698-2706
Number of pages9
JournalArthroscopy - Journal of Arthroscopic and Related Surgery
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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