BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2018 19:295

Uptake of the NICE osteoarthritis guidelines in primary care: a survey of older adults with joint pain

Emma Louise Healey, Ebenezer K. Afolabi, Martyn Lewis, John J. Edwards, Kelvin P. Jordan, Andrew Finney, Clare Jinks, Elaine M. Hay and Krysia S. Dziedzic
Ankle Elbow Hip Knee Shoulder

Background

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a leading cause of pain and disability. NICE OA guidelines (2008) recommend that patients with OA should be offered core treatments in primary care. Assessments of OA management have identified a need to improve primary care of people with OA, as recorded use of interventions concordant with the NICE guidelines is suboptimal in primary care. The aim of this study was to i) describe the patient-reported uptake of non-pharmacological and pharmacological treatments recommended in the NICE OA guidelines in older adults with a self-reported consultation for joint pain and ii) determine whether patient characteristics or OA diagnosis impact uptake.

Methods

A cross-sectional survey mailed to adults aged ≥45 years (n = 28,443) from eight general practices in the UK as part of the MOSAICS study. Respondents who reported the presence of joint pain, a consultation in the previous 12 months for joint pain, and gave consent to medical record review formed the sample for this study.

Results

Four thousand fifty-nine respondents were included in the analysis (mean age 65.6 years (SD 11.2), 2300 (56.7%) females). 502 (12.4%) received an OA diagnosis in the previous 12 months. More participants reported using pharmacological treatments (e.g. paracetamol (31.3%), opioids (40.4%)) than non-pharmacological treatments (e.g. exercise (3.8%)). Those with an OA diagnosis were more likely to use written information (OR 1.57; 95% CI 1.26,1.96), paracetamol (OR 1.30; 95% CI 1.05,1.62) and topical NSAIDs (OR 1.30; 95% CI 1.04,1.62) than those with a joint pain code. People aged ≥75 years were less likely to use written information (OR 0.56; 95% CI 0.40,0.79) and exercise (OR 0.37; 95% CI 0.25,0.55) and more likely to use paracetamol (OR 1.91; 95% CI 1.38,2.65) than those aged < 75 years.

Conclusion

The cross-sectional population survey was conducted to examine the uptake of the treatments that are recommended in the NICE OA guidelines in older adults with a self-reported consultation for joint pain and to determine whether patient characteristics or OA diagnosis impact uptake. Non-pharmacological treatment was suboptimal compared to pharmacological treatment. Implementation of NICE guidelines needs to examine why non-pharmacological treatments, such as exercise, remain under-used especially among older people.


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