Osteoarthritis (OA) is the fastest growing cause of disability worldwide. The aim of this study was to understand the impact of OA on individuals and to explore current treatment strategies. An online UK-wide survey of people with self-reported OA was conducted, composed of 52 questions exploring the impact of OA, diagnosis and treatment, the role of health professionals and self-management. Four thousand forty-three people were invited with 2,001 respondents (49 % response, 56 % women; mean age 65 years). Fifty-two percent reported that OA had a large impact on their lives. Fifteen percent of respondents had taken early retirement on average 7.8 years earlier than planned. In consultations with general practitioners, only half reported a discussion on pain; fewer reported discussing their fears (21 %) or management goals (15 %). Nearly half (48 %) reported not seeking medical help until pain was frequently unbearable. Oral analgesics (62 %), topical therapies (47 %), physiotherapy (38 %) and steroid injections (28 %) were commonly used. The majority (71 %) reported varying degrees of persistent pain despite taking all prescribed medication. Although 64 % knew that increasing exercise was important, only 36 % acted on this knowledge; 87 % who increased exercise found it beneficial. Over half had future concerns related to mobility (60 %), maintaining independence (52 %) and coping with everyday activities (51 %). OA had significant individual economic impact especially on employment. Current treatment strategies still leave most people in pain with significant fears for the future. There is considerable opportunity to improve the holistic nature of OA consultations especially in provision of information and promotion of self-management strategies.
- Primary healthcare