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


To determine whether psychosocial factors affect patient-reported outcomes in individuals with rotator cuff tears or after rotator cuff repair.


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.


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.


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.

 2019 Sep;35(9):2698-2706. doi: 10.1016/j.arthro.2019.03.043.