Management of osteoarthritis in general practice in Australia

Caroline Anne Brand, Christopher Harrison, Joanne Tropea, Rana S Hinman, Helena Britt, Kim L Bennell

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98 Citations (Scopus)


Objective To describe management of osteoarthritis (OA) of the hip (OA-hip) and knee (OA-knee) by Australian general practitioners (GPs). Methods We analyzed data from the Bettering the Evaluation and Care of Health program, from April 1, 2005 to March 31, 2010. Patient and GP characteristics and encounter management data were extracted. Data were classified by the International Classification of Primary Care, version 2, and summarized using descriptive statistics and 95 confidence intervals around point estimates. Results There were 489,900 GP encounters at which OA was managed (rate of 26.4 per 1,000 encounters). OA-hip was managed at a rate of 2.3 per 1,000 encounters (n = 1,106, 8.6 OA) and OA-knee at a rate of 6.2 per 1,000 (n = 3,058, 23.7 OA). The encounter management rate per 1,000 for OA-hip was higher among non-metropolitan dwellers (2.85 per 1,000 versus 1.97 per 1,000) and lower for non-English-speaking people (1.53 per 1,000 encounters versus 2.39 per 1,000). The rate for OA-knee was higher for non-English-speaking background (8.50 per 1,000 encounters versus 6.24 per 1,000) and lower among indigenous people (3.16 per 1,000 encounters versus 6.46 per 1,000). Referral to an orthopedic surgeon was the most frequently used nonpharmacologic management (OA-knee 17.4 per 100 contacts and OA-hip 17.7 per 100), followed by advice, education, and counselling. As first-line treatment, medication prescription rates (OA-knee 78.7 per 100 contacts and OA-hip 73.2 per 100) were substantially higher than rates of lifestyle management (OA-knee 20.7 per 100 contacts and OA-hip 14.8 per 100). Conclusion OA-hip and OA-knee encounters and management differ. Nonpharmacologic treatments as first-line management were low compared with pharmacologic management rates, and surgical referral rates were high. However, lack of longitudinal data limits definitive assessment of appropriateness of care.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)551 - 558
Number of pages8
JournalArthritis Care & Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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