Deakin University

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Guideline for the non-surgical management of hip and knee osteoarthritis

posted on 2009-01-01, 00:00 authored by C Brand, R Buchbinder, A Wluka, D Ruth, S McKenzie, K Jones, Tracey BucknallTracey Bucknall, L Ung, G McColl, R Hinman, K Grimmer-Somers, A Jasper, E Haesler, J Rada
Introduction: Chronic disease is a major public health burden on Australian society. An increasing proportion of the population has risk factors for, or at least one, chronic disease, leading to increasing public health costs. Health service policy and delivery must not only address acute conditions, it must also effectively respond to the wide range of health and public service requirements of people with chronic illness.1,2 Strong primary health care policy is an important foundation for a successful national health delivery system and long term management of public health, and is linked to practical outcomes including lower mortality, decreased hospitalisation and improved health outcomes.1 National strategic health policy has recently given increased recognition to the importance of chronic disease management, with the Australian Federal Government endorsement of a number of initiatives for the prevention (or delay in onset), early detection and evidence based management of chronic disease, including osteoarthritis.1,3
Chronic musculoskeletal conditions, including arthritis, account for over 4% of the national disease burden in terms of disability adjusted life years. Over 6 million Australians (almost one-third of the population) are estimated to have a chronic musculoskeletal disease; chronic musculoskeletal disease represents the main cause of long term pain and physical disability. In Australia, osteoarthritis is self reported by more than 1.4 million people (7.3% of the population4) and is the tenth most commonly managed problem in general practice.5 This number is set to rise as the elderly population grows. Osteoarthritis exerts a significant burden on the individual and the community through reduction in quality of life, diminished employment capacity and an increase in health care costs. For further details, refer to the Evidence to support the National Action Plan for Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoporosis: Opportunities to improve health-related quality of life and reduce the burden of disease and disability (2004).6
As such, federal government health policy has identified arthritis as a National Health Priority Area and adopted a number of initiatives aimed at decreasing the burden of chronic disease and disability; raising awareness of preventive disease factors; providing access to evidence based knowledge; and improving the overall management of arthritis within the community.4 In 2002, all Australian health ministers designated arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions as Australia’s seventh National Health Priority Area. In response, a National Action Plan was developed in 2004 by the National Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Conditions Advisory Group (NAMSCAG).6 The aim of this document was to provide a blueprint for national initiatives to improve the health related quality of life of people living with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis; reduce the cost and prevalence of these conditions; and reduce the impact on individuals, their carers and their communities within Australia. The National Action Plan was developed to complement both the National Chronic Disease Strategy – which is broader – and the National Service Improvement Framework for Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoporosis, in addition to other national and state/ territory structures.



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The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners

Place of publication

Melbourne, Vic.





Publication classification

A5 Minor research monograph

Copyright notice

2009, The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners

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