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Operation Walk Boston Medical Students receive prestigious grant from the Rheumatology Research Foundation

Chris Devine and Amy Yu are first-year M.D. candidates at Harvard Medical School, and have been awarded the Rheumatology Research Foundation's Medical Student Preceptorship, a prestigious, competitive award to advance their research conducted during the Operation Walk Boston 2015 mission.

The medical students work under the guidance of Dr. Jeffrey N. Katz, Operation Walk Boston Director of Outcomes Research and Director of the Orthopaedic and Arthritis Center for Outcomes Research (OrACORe) at Brigham & Women's Hospital. Amy and Chris are leading qualitative research projects to understand cross-cultural differences in clinicians' pain management practices and patients' perception of pain.

During the 2015 mission, Chris and Amy traveled with the team to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, conducting interviews with physicians and nurses to investigate approaches to pain management following total joint replacement. Patients with advanced arthritis were also interviewed to understand their pain tolerance, and habits of self-care and care-seeking behaviors. The award will provide the students the opportunity to immerse themselves in rheumatology and orthopaedics research this summer, and attend the American College of Rheumatology Annual Meeting in San Francisco this November. 

Amy and Chris are among many Harvard Medical Students who have joined Operation Walk Boston since 2008. Their work has made great contributions to orthopaedic global healthcare delivery. Their work is supported by our clinical and administrative colleagues at Hospital General Plaza de La Salud who have partnered with Operation Walk Boston since 2008. 


Operation Walk Boston performs rigorous clinical research in order to carefully document how the program impacts patients’ quality of life.  Our research is the first of its kind, documenting short and long term outcomes of patients undergoing total joint replacements during a medical mission.   

The results are striking: Prior to their hip and knee replacements, Dominican Republic-based patients are, on average, more functionally disabled than patients in the US, United Kingdom, and Australia.  However these patients recover remarkably well. By the time of their one year follow up, they have achieved functional status and pain scores that are equivalent to those documented in other countries.  Operation Walk Boston literally gives patients their lives back.

Our research focuses on the following areas:

  1. Functional and quality of life outcomes
  2. Surgical and intra-operative factors
  3. Program evaluation and comparisons with US Centers of Clinical Excellence
  4. Factors impacting sustainability


Several research articles have been published over the past few years based on data culled from the Operation Walk Boston missions. Below is the list of publications and the weblinks to the full articles.

Sustainability assessment of a short-term international medical mission. Bido J, Singer SJ, Diez Portela D, Ghazinouri R, Driscoll DA, Alcantara Abreu L, Aggouras BM, Thornhill TS, Katz JN. J Bone Joint Surg Am. June 3, 2015. Volume 97, Issue 11; Pages 944-9. Click here to read the full text.

Obesity & hypertension are determinants of poor hemodynamic control during total joint arthroplasty: a retrospective review. Nwachukwu BU1, Collins JE, Nelson EP, Concepcion M, Thornhill TS, Katz JN. BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2013 Jan 14;14:20. Click here to read the full text.

Participation in physical activity in patients 1-4 years post total joint replacement in the Dominican Republic. Elman SA, Dong Y, Stenquist DS, Ghazinouri R, Alcantara L, Collins JE, Beagan C, Thornhill TS, Katz JN. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders. 2014 Jun 16;15:207. Click here to read the full text.

Physical activity and experience of total knee replacement in patients 1-4 years post-surgery in the Dominican Republic: A qualitative study. Stenquist DS, Elman SA, Davis AM, Bogart LM, Brownlee SA, Sanchez ES, Santiago A, Ghazinouri R, Katz JN. Arthritis Care & Research (Hoboken). 2014 May 12. Click here to read the full text.

Development and validation of a Spanish translation of the Yale activity questionnaire. Katz JN, Perez MT, Niu NN, Dong Y, Brownlee SA, Elman SA, Stenquist DS, Santiago A, Sanchez ES, Collins JE. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders. 2014 Apr 7;15:120. Click here to read the full text.

Associations between preoperative functional status and functional outcomes of total joint replacement in the Dominican Republic. Dempsey KE, Collins JE, Ghazinouri R, Alcantara L, Thornhill TS, Katz JN. Rheumatology (Oxford). 2013 Oct;52(10):1802-8. Click here to read the full text.

Enhancing the quality of international orthopedic medical mission trips using the blue distinction criteria for knee and hip replacement centers. Dempsey KE, Ghazinouri R, Diez D, Alcantara L, Beagan C, Aggouras B, Hoagland M, Thornhill TS, Katz JN. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders. 2013 Sep 23;14(1):275. Click here to read the full text.

Patient disease perceptions and coping strategies for arthritis in a developing nation: a qualitative study. Niu NN, Davis AM, Bogart LM, Thornhill TS, Abreu LA, Ghazinouri R, Katz JN.  BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders. 2011 Oct 10;12:228. Click here to read the full text.

Pre-operative status and quality of life following total joint replacement in a developing country: a prospective pilot study. Niu NN, Collins JE, Thornhill TS, Alcantara Abreu L, Ghazinouri R, Okike K, Katz JN. The Open Orthopaedics Journal. 2011;5:307-14. Click here to read the full text.

Singing intervention for preoperative hypertension prior to total joint replacement: a case report. Niu NN, Perez MT, Katz JN. Arthritis Care & Research (Hoboken). 2011 Apr;63(4):630-2. Click here to read the full text.


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