Fifty‐two general practitioners from a variety of practice settings recorded clinical information on 1964 patients with arthritis who independently completed questionnaires about their treatment, joints affected and disability. Of 1871 analysed, 79.4 per cent had osteoarthritis (OA) and 15.3 per cent rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Half of those with OA were under 65 years old, 60 per cent were obese and two‐thirds were women. The knee was the site most commonly affected. Mean disability scores (HAQ) were greater in RA than OA (1.28 versus 0.87) but 34 per cent of patients with OA were moderately disabled (score > 1) and 6 per cent severely disabled (score > 2), even after allowing for comorbid conditions. Disability increased markedly in patients over 75 years. Although these older OA patients were treated increasingly with simple analgesics alone, 69 per cent were taking non steroidal anti‐inflammatory drugs often in combination. Physiotherapy was not used frequently. These results illustrate the huge burden of disability caused by OA in the community and the opportunities to improve treatment.
- general practice
- Health Assessment Questionnaire
- rheumatoid arthritis