Aberdeen researchers in new study to improve osteoarthritis assessment

Aberdeen researchers in new study to improve osteoarthritis assessment

Researchers at the University of Aberdeen are aiming to improve the effectiveness of the way assessments of the common condition of osteoarthritis are carried out.

Medical research charity the Arthritis Research Campaign has awarded the team funding of £122,000 over three years to carry research which should result in more accurate evaluation of treatment outcomes and targeting of treatment for osteoarthritis patients.

The grant will enable the research team, made up of Professor Marie Johnston and Dr Beth Pollard, of the University of Aberdeen’s College of Life Sciences and Medicine and Dr Diane Dixon, from the University of Stirling, to investigate the accuracy of results gathered from patient questionnaires.

When sufferers of osteoarthritis undergo treatments, such as a hip replacement, some people may have better outcomes that others and, following the procedure, patient questionnaires are used to determine who benefits most.

But the team has concerns that some questions may skew the results.

Dr Pollard explained: “The classic example is a question to assess how depressed people are which asks ‘Do you cry a lot?’. Women may say ‘yes’ to this question when they are only mildly depressed, but men who say ‘yes’ are usually more depressed.

“With arthritis, patient questionnaires are used to establish how successful treatments, such as joint replacement, pain relief medication and physiotherapy are, but if we are not asking ‘good’ questions we may not get an accurate picture.

“We will look at how gender, socio economic, demographic and clinical factors affect the way patients respond to the questions. If we know how factors such as gender affect responses to questions then the analysis of the results can take this into account or the problem questions can be excluded from the analysis.

“This is very important as many decisions about the treatment patients with osteoarthritis receive are based on the results from such questionnaires. We hope the funding from the Arthritis Research Campaign will enable us to improve the accuracy of these questions and ultimately the treatment patients receive.”