Most patients believe that research into joint pain should focus on self-management and lifestyle modifications, suggests a UK survey of older individuals with self-reported joint pain.
Overall, 62% of the 1756 respondents, aged 56 years and older, gave preference to these areas, while 38% believed that medical interventions, such as drugs and joint replacement surgery, should be top priority.
"This preference for lifestyle or self-management topics is in agreement with previous studies that suggested there was a mismatch between public and professional interests in areas for research," say Vicky Strauss (Keele University) and fellow Arthritis Research UK Research Users' Group researchers.
They add: "Qualitative studies have previously highlighted that the primary concern for many people experiencing chronic pain is to maintain valued activities."
Overall, "keeping active" was rated the top priority by 38% of 1396 patients who listed specific preferences, followed by joint replacement (9%), and diet or weight loss (9%). Education (8%) was the next priority, followed by mobility (7%), and tablets (7%).
However, age and medical history significantly affected opinions. In particular, participants were significantly more likely to prioritize research into medical interventions over self-management and lifestyle research if they were older (odds ratio [OR]=1.73 for those aged ≥75 years vs 56-64 years), and if they had foot pain (OR=1.58).
Although gender did not influence priority, people aged 65 years and older were more likely to choose joint replacement over keeping active than younger participants (OR=2.69). Older individuals were also more likely to prefer tablets for treatment (OR=1.82, ≥65 years vs 65-74 years), and less likely to look at diet or weight loss (OR=0.36, ≥75 vs <65 years).
Obese individuals were more likely to prioritize weight loss and diet (OR=2.99), and mobility (OR=2.14) than those with a healthy body mass index (OR=2.99).
Writing in Rheumatology, the researchers say: "Our aim now is to continue to collaborate with patient groups, assess the relevant evidence base and discuss and agree a study proposal that will take forward the findings of this population survey."
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