Patients, Doctors Agree OA Care Needs Improvement

Need for more information at time of diagnosis, and osteoarthritis specialist in primary care

MONDAY, April 4 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with osteoarthritis (OA) and health professionals involved in treatment agree about health care provision for OA, stressing the need for an OA specialist in primary care and better information at or soon after diagnosis, according to a study published online March 8 in Arthritis Care & Research.

Cindy Mann, R.N., and Rachael Gooberman-Hill, Ph.D., from Southmead Hospital in Bristol, U.K., evaluated the opinions of patients and health professionals about existing OA care and possible service improvements. Opinions were collected from 16 patients, who participated in a focus group, and 12 health professionals from primary and secondary care, who were interviewed.

The investigators found agreement in the views of patients and health professionals. Both felt the need for more attention and improved consistency of care for OA. At the time of diagnosis, more practical information and education was needed about the condition, resources available, aids, diet, and exercise. Both patients and health professionals suggested access to a primary care OA specialist, use of a management model similar to that used in to other long-term conditions, and improvement in self-management support to help patients effectively and appropriately manage the condition. Patients wanted their general practitioners to give more time, enhanced continuity, and more proactive follow-up, and to have less variation in accessing joint replacement.

"This study is the first to show congruence between patients' and health professionals' overall concerns, albeit some motivations for improvement may differ. Importantly, patients and health professionals emphasized the desirability of patient-initiated follow-up with a primary care-based health professional specializing in OA," the authors write.

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