General Practitioners (GPs) respond poorly to postal surveys. Consequently there is potential for reduced data quality and bias in the findings. In general population surveys, response to postal questionnaires may be improved by reducing their length and offering incentives. The aim of this study was to investigate whether questionnaire length and/or the offer of an incentive improves the response of GPs to a postal questionnaire survey.
A postal questionnaire survey was sent to 800 UK GPs randomly selected from Binley’s database; a database containing contact details of professionals working in UK general practices. The random sample of GPs was assigned to one of four groups of 200, each receiving a different questionnaire, either a standard (eight sides of A4) or an abbreviated (four sides of A4) questionnaire, with or without the offer of an incentive (a prize draw entry for a £100 voucher) for completion. The effects of questionnaire length and offer of incentive on response were calculated.
Of 800 mailed questionnaires, 19 GPs did not meet inclusion criteria and 172 (adjusted response 22.0%) completed questionnaires were received. Among the four groups, response ranged from 20.1% (standard questionnaire with no incentive and abbreviated questionnaire with incentive) through 21.8% (standard questionnaire with incentive), to 26.0% (abbreviated questionnaire with no incentive). There were no significant differences in response between the four groups (p = 0.447), between the groups receiving the standard versus the abbreviated questionnaire (% difference -2.1% (95% confidence interval (CI) -7.9, 3.7)) or the groups offered an incentive versus no incentive (% difference -2.1% (95% CI -7.9, 3.7).
Strategies known to improve response to postal questionnaire surveys in the general population do not significantly improve the response to postal questionnaire surveys among GPs. Further refinements to these strategies, or more novel strategies, aimed at increasing response specifically among GPs need to be identified in order to maximise data quality and generalisability of research results.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2288-15-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Cross-sectional survey; Postal questionnaires; General practice; Incentive; Non-response; Questionnaire length; Response
To examine the experiences of primary care consultation among older adults with symptomatic foot osteoarthritis (OA).
Eleven participants (6 women and 5 men) ages 56–80 years who had radiographically confirmed symptomatic foot OA and consulted a general practitioner in the last 12 months for foot pain were purposively sampled. Semistructured interviews explored the nature of the foot problem, help-seeking behaviors, and consultation experiences. Verbatim transcripts were analyzed using interpretative phenomenological analysis.
The decision to consult a physician was often the outcome of a complex process influenced by quantitative and qualitative changes in symptoms, difficulty maintaining day-to-day roles and responsibilities and the effect this had on family and work colleagues, and a reluctance to present a fragile or aging self to the outside world. Self-management was commonly negotiated alongside multimorbidities. Upon seeking help, participants often believed they received limited information, they were given a brief or even cursory assessment, and that treatment was focused on the prescription of analgesic drugs.
This is the first qualitative study of primary care experiences among patients with symptomatic foot OA. The experience of primary care seldom appeared to move beyond a label of arthritis and an unwelcome emphasis on pharmacologic treatment.
Polymyalgia rheumatica is one of the most common inflammatory rheumatologic conditions in older adults. Other inflammatory rheumatologic disorders are associated with an excess risk of vascular disease. We investigated whether polymyalgia rheumatica is associated with an increased risk of vascular events.
We used the General Practice Research Database to identify patients with a diagnosis of incident polymyalgia rheumatica between Jan. 1, 1987, and Dec. 31, 1999. Patients were matched by age, sex and practice with up to 5 patients without polymyalgia rheumatica. Patients were followed until their first vascular event (cardiovascular, cerebrovascular, peripheral vascular) or the end of available records (May 2011). All participants were free of vascular disease before the diagnosis of polymyalgia rheumatica (or matched date). We used Cox regression models to compare time to first vascular event in patients with and without polymyalgia rheumatica.
A total of 3249 patients with polymyalgia rheumatica and 12 735 patients without were included in the final sample. Over a median follow-up period of 7.8 (interquartile range 3.3–12.4) years, the rate of vascular events was higher among patients with polymyalgia rheumatica than among those without (36.1 v. 12.2 per 1000 person-years; adjusted hazard ratio 2.6, 95% confidence interval 2.4–2.9). The increased risk of a vascular event was similar for each vascular disease end point. The magnitude of risk was higher in early disease and in patients younger than 60 years at diagnosis.
Patients with polymyalgia rheumatica have an increased risk of vascular events. This risk is greatest in the youngest age groups. As with other forms of inflammatory arthritis, patients with polymyalgia rheumatica should have their vascular risk factors identified and actively managed to reduce this excess risk.
The Manchester Foot Pain and Disability Index (MFPDI, 19 items) was developed to measure functional limitations, pain and appearance for patients with foot pain and is frequently used in both observational studies and randomised controlled trials. A Dutch version of the MFPDI was developed. The aims of this study were to evaluate all the measurement properties for the Dutch version of the MFPDI and to evaluate comparability to the original version.
The MFPDI was translated into Dutch using a forward/backward translation process. The dimensionality was evaluated using exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis. Measurement properties were evaluated per subscale according to the COSMIN taxonomy consisting of: reliability (internal consistency, test-retest reliability and measurement error), validity (structural validity, content validity and cross-cultural validity comparing the Dutch version to the English version) responsiveness and interpretation.
The questionnaire consists of three scales, measuring foot function, foot pain and perception. The reliability of the foot function scale is acceptable (Cronbach’s α > 0.7, ICC = 0.7, SEM = 2.2 on 0-18 scale). The construct validity of the function and pain scale was confirmed and only the pain scale contains one item with differential item functioning (DIF). The responsiveness of the function and pain scale is moderate when compared to anchor questions.
Results using the Dutch MFPDI version can be compared to results using the original version. The foot function sub-scale (items 1-9) is a reliable and valid sub-scale. This study indicates that the use of the MFPDI as a longitudinal instrument might be problematic for measuring change in musculoskeletal foot pain due to moderate responsiveness.
Exercise is consistently recommended for older adults with knee pain related to osteoarthritis. However, the effects from exercise are typically small and short-term, likely linked to insufficient individualisation of the exercise programme and limited attention to supporting exercise adherence over time. The BEEP randomised trial aims to improve patients’ short and long-term outcomes from exercise. It will test the overall effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of two physiotherapy-led exercise interventions (Individually Tailored Exercise and Targeted Exercise Adherence) to improve the individual tailoring of, and adherence to exercise, compared with usual physiotherapy care.
Based on the learning from a pilot study (ISRCTN 23294263), the BEEP trial is a multi-centre, pragmatic, parallel group, individually randomised controlled trial, with embedded longitudinal qualitative interviews. 500 adults in primary care, aged 45 years and over with knee pain will be randomised to 1 of 3 treatment groups delivered by fully trained physiotherapists in up to 6 NHS services. These are: Usual Physiotherapy Care (control group consisting of up to 4 treatment sessions of advice and exercise), Individually Tailored Exercise (an individualised, supervised and progressed lower-limb exercise programme) or Targeted Exercise Adherence (supporting patients to adhere to exercise and to engage in general physical activity over the longer-term). The primary outcomes are pain and function as measured by the Western Ontario and McMaster Osteoarthritis index. A comprehensive range of secondary outcomes are also included. Outcomes are measured at 3, 6 (primary outcome time-point), 9, 18 and 36 months. Data on adverse events will also be collected. Semi-structured, qualitative interviews with a subsample of 30 participants (10 from each treatment group) will be undertaken at two time-points (end of treatment and 12 to 18 months later) and analysed thematically.
This trial will contribute to the evidence base for management of older adults with knee pain attributable to osteoarthritis in primary care. The findings will have important implications for healthcare commissioners, general practitioners and physiotherapy service providers and it will inform future education of healthcare practitioners. It may also serve to delay or prevent some individuals from becoming surgical candidates.
Knee osteoarthritis; Knee pain; Physiotherapy; Exercise; Primary care; Adherence; Randomised controlled trial
Osteoarthritis affecting the first metatarsophalangeal joint of the foot is a common condition which results in pain, stiffness and impaired ambulation. Footwear modifications and foot orthoses are widely used in clinical practice to treat this condition, but their effectiveness has not been rigorously evaluated. This article describes the design of a randomised trial comparing the effectiveness of rocker-sole footwear and individualised prefabricated foot orthoses in reducing pain associated with first metatarsophalangeal joint osteoarthritis.
Eighty people with first metatarsophalangeal joint osteoarthritis will be randomly allocated to receive either a pair of rocker-sole shoes (MBT® Matwa, Masai Barefoot Technology, Switzerland) or a pair of individualised, prefabricated foot orthoses (Vasyli Customs, Vasyli Medical™, Queensland, Australia). At baseline, the biomechanical effects of the interventions will be examined using a wireless wearable sensor motion analysis system (LEGSys™, BioSensics, Boston, MA, USA) and an in-shoe plantar pressure system (Pedar®, Novel GmbH, Munich, Germany). The primary outcome measure will be the pain subscale of the Foot Health Status Questionnaire (FHSQ), measured at baseline and 4, 8 and 12 weeks. Secondary outcome measures will include the function, footwear and general foot health subscales of the FHSQ, severity of pain and stiffness at the first metatarsophalangeal joint (measured using 100 mm visual analog scales), global change in symptoms (using a 15-point Likert scale), health status (using the Short-Form-12® Version 2.0 questionnaire), use of rescue medication and co-interventions to relieve pain, the frequency and type of self-reported adverse events and physical activity levels (using the Incidental and Planned Activity Questionnaire). Data will be analysed using the intention to treat principle.
This study is the first randomised trial to compare the effectiveness of rocker-sole footwear and individualised prefabricated foot orthoses in reducing pain associated with osteoarthritis of the first metatarsophalangeal joint, and only the third randomised trial ever conducted for this condition. The study has been pragmatically designed to ensure that the findings can be implemented into clinical practice if the interventions are found to be effective, and the baseline biomechanical analysis will provide useful insights into their mechanism of action.
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry: ACTRN12613001245785
Subacromial impingement syndrome is the most frequent cause of shoulder problems which themselves affect 1 in 3 adults. Management commonly includes exercise and corticosteroid injection. However, the few existing trials of exercise or corticosteroid injection for subacromial impingement syndrome are mostly small, of poor quality, and focus only on short-term results. Exercise packages tend to be standardised rather than individualised and progressed. There has been much recent interest in improving outcome from corticosteroid injections by using musculoskeletal ultrasound to guide injections. However, there are no high-quality trials comparing ultrasound-guided and blind corticosteroid injection in subacromial impingement syndrome. This trial will investigate how to optimise the outcome of subacromial impingement syndrome from exercise (standardised advice and information leaflet versus physiotherapist-led exercise) and from subacromial corticosteroid injection (blind versus ultrasound-guided), and provide long-term follow-up data on clinical and cost-effectiveness.
The study design is a 2x2 factorial randomised controlled trial. 252 adults with subacromial impingement syndrome will be recruited from two musculoskeletal Clinical Assessment and Treatment Services at the primary-secondary care interface in Staffordshire, UK. Participants will be randomised on a 1:1:1:1 basis to one of four treatment groups: (1) ultrasound-guided subacromial corticosteroid injection and a physiotherapist-led exercise programme, (2) ultrasound-guided subacromial corticosteroid injection and an advice and exercise leaflet, (3) blind subacromial corticosteroid injection and a physiotherapist-led exercise programme, or (4) blind subacromial corticosteroid injection and an advice and exercise leaflet. The primary intention-to-treat analysis will be the mean differences in Shoulder Pain and Disability Index (SPADI) scores at 6 weeks for the comparison between injection interventions and at 6 months for the comparison between exercise interventions. Although independence of treatment effects is assumed, the magnitude of any interaction effect will be examined (but is not intended for the main analyses). Secondary outcomes will include comparison of long-term outcomes (12 months) and cost-effectiveness. A secondary per protocol analysis will also be performed.
This protocol paper presents detail of the rationale, design, methods and operational aspects of the SUPPORT trial.
Current controlled trials ISRCTN42399123.
Subacromial impingement syndrome; Shoulder pain; Randomised controlled trial; Corticosteroid injection; Musculoskeletal ultrasound; Exercise; Physiotherapy
Management of musculoskeletal conditions in the UK is increasingly delivered in multidisciplinary clinical assessment and treatment services (CATS) at the primary–secondary care interface. However, there is little evidence concerning the characteristics and management of patients attending CATS.
To describe the characteristics, investigation, and treatment of adults attending a musculoskeletal CATS.
Design and setting
Cross-sectional analysis of cohort study baseline data from a musculoskeletal CATS in Stoke-on-Trent Primary Care Trust, UK.
All patients referred from primary care between February 2008 and June 2009 were mailed a pre-consultation questionnaire concerning pain duration, general health status, anxiety, depression, employment status, and work absence due to musculoskeletal problems. At the consultation, clinical diagnoses, body region(s) affected, investigations, and treatment were recorded.
A total of 2166 (73%) completed questionnaires were received. Chronic pain duration >1 year (55%), major physical limitation (76%), anxiety (49%), and depression (37%) were common. Of those currently employed, 516 (45%) had taken time off work in the last 6 months because of their musculoskeletal problem; 325 (29%) were unable to do their usual job. The most frequent investigations were X-rays (23%), magnetic resonance imaging (18%), and blood tests (14%): 1012 (48%) received no investigations. Injections were performed in 282 (13%) and 492 (23%) were referred to physiotherapy.
Although most patients presented with musculoskeletal problems suitable for CATS, chronic pain, physical limitation, anxiety, depression, and work disability were commonplace, highlighting the need for a biopsychosocial model of care that addresses psychological, social, and work-related needs, as well as pain and physical disability.
anxiety; depression; health services; musculoskeletal diseases; referral and consultation; work disability
Gout is estimated to affect 1.4% of adults in the UK. Appropriate and timely management is essential to reduce the risk of further flares, complications, and to reduce cardiovascular disease risk. The British Society for Rheumatology and British Health Professionals in Rheumatology (BSR/BHPR) and the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) have published guidance regarding the management of gout, thereby providing standards against which performance can be measured. This audit was designed to assess the extent to which patients diagnosed with gout in one primary care medical practice in North Staffordshire, UK, are managed in accordance with current best practice guidelines, and to identify strategies for improvement where appropriate.
Audit criteria were derived from the EULAR and BSR/BHPR guidelines; standards were set arbitrarily, but with consideration of patient comorbidity and other factors which may influence concordance. An electronic search of the practice records was performed to identify adults with a diagnosis of gout. Medical record review with a descriptive analysis was undertaken to assess the extent to which medical management adhered to the predefined standards.
Of the total ≥18 year-old practice population (n = 8686), 305 (3%) patient records included a diagnosis of gout. Of these, 74% (n = 226) had an electronic record of serum uric acid (SUA), and 11% (n = 34) and 53% (n = 162) a measure of estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) ever and serum glucose since diagnosis respectively. 34% (n = 105) of patients had ever taken urate-lowering therapy with 25% (n = 77) currently prescribed this at the time of data extraction. Dose adjustment and monitoring of treatment according to SUA was found to be inadequate. Provision of lifestyle advice and consideration of comorbidities was also lacking.
The primary care management of gout in this practice was not concordant with national and international guidance, a finding consistent with previous studies. This demonstrates that the provision of guidelines alone is not sufficient to improve the quality of gout management and we identify possible strategies to increase guideline adherence.
Gout; Management; Audit; Primary care; Allopurinol; Serum uric acid
Foot pain drawings (manikins) are commonly used to describe foot pain location in self-report health surveys. Respondents shade the manikin where they experience pain. The manikin is then scored via a transparent overlay that divides the drawings into areas. In large population based studies they are often scored by multiple raters. A difference in how different raters score manikins (inter-rater repeatability), or in how an individual rater scores manikins over time (intra-rater repeatability) can therefore affect data quality. This study aimed to assess inter- and intra-rater repeatability of scoring of the foot manikin.
A random sample was generated of 50 respondents to a large population based survey of adults aged 50 years and older who experienced foot pain and completed a foot manikin. Manikins were initially scored by any one of six administrative staff (Rating 1). These manikins were re-scored by a second rater (Rating 2). The second rater then re-scored the manikins one week later (Rating 3). The following scores were compared: Rating 1 versus Rating 2 (inter-rater repeatability), and Rating 2 versus Rating 3 (intra-rater repeatability). A novel set of clinically relevant foot pain regions made up of one or more individual areas on the foot manikin were developed, and assessed for inter- and intra-rater repeatability.
Scoring agreement of 100% (all 50 manikins) was seen in 69% (40 out of 58) of individual areas for inter-rater scoring (range 94 to 100%), and 81% (47 out of 58) of areas for intra-rater scoring (range 96 to 100%). All areas had a kappa value of ≥0.70 for inter- and intra-rater scoring. Scoring agreement of 100% was seen in 50% (10 out of 20) of pain regions for inter-rater scoring (range 96 to 100%), and 95% (19 out of 20) of regions for intra-rater scoring (range 98 to 100%). All regions had a kappa value of >0.70 for inter- and intra-rater scoring.
Individual and multiple raters can reliably score the foot pain manikin. In addition, our proposed regions may be used to reliably classify different patterns of foot pain using the foot manikin.
Foot pain; Pain drawings; Manikins; Reliability; Repeatability; Agreement
Objectives. To identify the instruments that have been used to measure health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in gout and assess their clinimetric properties, determine the distribution of HRQOL in gout and identify factors associated with poor HRQOL.
Methods. Medline, CINAHL, EMBASE and PsycINFO were searched from inception to October 2012. Search terms pertained to gout, health or functional status, clinimetric properties and HRQOL. Study data extraction and quality assessment were performed by two independent reviewers.
Results. From 474 identified studies, 22 met the inclusion criteria. Health Assessment Questionnaire Disability Index (HAQ-DI) and Short Form 36 (SF-36) were most frequently used and highest rated due to robust construct and concurrent validity, despite high floor and ceiling effects. The Gout Impact Scale had good content validity. Gout had a greater impact on physical HRQOL compared to other domains. Both gout-specific features (attack frequency and intensity, intercritical pain and number of joints involved) and comorbid disease were associated with poor HRQOL. Evidence for objective features such as tophi and serum uric acid was less robust. Limitations of existing studies include cross-sectional design, recruitment from specialist clinic settings and frequent use of generic instruments.
Conclusion. Most studies have used the generic HAQ-DI and SF-36. Gout-specific characteristics and comorbidities contribute to poor HRQOL. There is a need for a cohort study in primary care (where most patients with gout are treated) to determine which factors predict changes in HRQOL over time. This will enable those at risk of deterioration to be identified and better targeted for treatment.
gout; health-related quality of life; clinimetrics
Objective. Little is known about the association between gout and socioeconomic status (SES). Inequalities in rheumatology provision associated with SES may need to be addressed by health care planners. The aim of this study is to investigate the association of gout and SES in the community at both the individual and area levels.
Methods. Questionnaires were sent to all patients older than age 50 years who were registered with eight general practices in North Staffordshire. Data on individual SES were collected by questionnaire while area SES was measured using the Index of Multiple Deprivation derived from respondents’ postcodes. Responders reported their occupation, education and the adequacy of their income; their medical records were searched for consultations for gout.
Results. Of the 348 consultations for gout in this period, at the individual level there was a significant association between gout and income. An association of gout with education was seen only in the unadjusted analyses. No association was found between gout and area level deprivation.
Conclusion. Gout is associated with some aspects of individual level but not area level deprivation. More extensive musculoskeletal services may need to be provided in low income areas, although further research is needed.
gout; primary care; observational study; consultation data; questionnaires socioeconomic status
Both gout and sleep apnoea are associated with the metabolic syndrome. Hyperuricaemia is also prevalent in sleep apnoea syndrome. The objective of this study was to examine the association between gout and sleep apnoea and other sleep disorders.
Data were taken from a validated database of general practice records from nine practices in the UK between 2001 and 2008. People consulting for gout were identified via Read codes and each matched with four controls for age, gender, practice and year of gout consultation. Sleep problems and confounding comorbidities were also identified via Read codes. Medications were identified through a linked database of prescription records. The association between gout and sleep disorders was assessed using a logistic regression model, adjusting for ischaemic heart disease, hypertension, diabetes mellitus and diuretic use.
1689 individuals with gout were identified and each successfully matched to four controls. Amongst those with gout, the prevalence of any sleep problem was 4.9%, sleep problems other than sleep apnoea 4.2%, and sleep apnoea 0.7%, compared to 3.5%, 3.2% and 0.3% respectively in controls. Gout was associated with any sleep problem (odds ratio (OR) 1.44; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.11, 1.87), sleep problems other than sleep apnoea (OR 1.36; 95% CI 1.03, 1.80), and sleep apnoea (OR 2.10; 95% CI 1.01, 4.39). On multivariable analysis, gout remained significantly associated with any sleep problem (OR 1.39; 95% CI 1.06, 1.81) and sleep problems other than sleep apnoea (OR 1.37; 95% CI 1.03, 1.82), however the association with sleep apnoea was attenuated (OR 1.48, 95% CI 0.70, 3.14).
Gout and sleep problems appear to be associated and clinicians should be aware of the co-existence of these two conditions. Larger prospective epidemiological studies are required to explore causality.
Gout; Sleep; Apnea; General practice; Metabolic syndrome X
Gout is the commonest inflammatory arthritis affecting around 1.4% of adults in Europe. It is predominantly managed in primary care and classically affects the joints of the foot, particularly the first metatarsophalangeal joint. Gout related factors (including disease characteristics and treatment) as well as comorbid chronic disease are associated with poor Health Related Quality of Life (HRQOL) yet to date there is limited evidence concerning gout in a community setting. Existing epidemiological studies are limited by their cross-sectional design, selection of secondary care patients with atypical disease and the use of generic tools to measure HRQOL. This 3 year primary care-based prospective observational cohort study will describe the spectrum of HRQOL in community dwelling patients with gout, associated factors, predictors of poor outcome, and prevalence and incidence of foot problems in gout patients.
Adults aged ≥ 18 years diagnosed with gout or prescribed colchicine or allopurinol in the preceding 2 years will be identified through Read codes and mailed a series of self-completion postal questionnaires over a 3-year period. Consenting participants will have their general practice medical records reviewed.
This is the first prospective cohort study of HRQOL in patients with gout in primary care in the UK. The combination of survey data and medical record review will allow an in-depth understanding of factors that are associated with and lead to poor HRQOL and foot problems in gout. Identification of these factors will improve the management of this prevalent, yet under-treated, condition in primary care.
Gout; HRQOL; Foot; Patient experience; Prospective cohort; Primary care
Symptomatic osteoarthritis (OA) affects approximately 10% of adults aged over 60 years. The foot joint complex is commonly affected by OA, yet there is relatively little research into OA of the foot, compared with other frequently affected sites such as the knee and hand. Existing epidemiological studies of foot OA have focussed predominantly on the first metatarsophalangeal joint at the expense of other joints. This three-year prospective population-based observational cohort study will describe the prevalence of symptomatic radiographic foot OA, relate its occurrence to symptoms, examination findings and life-style-factors, describe the natural history of foot OA, and examine how it presents to, and is diagnosed and managed in primary care.
All adults aged 50 years and over registered with four general practices in North Staffordshire, UK, will be invited to participate in a postal Health Survey questionnaire. Respondents to the questionnaire who indicate that they have experienced foot pain in the preceding twelve months will be invited to attend a research clinic for a detailed clinical assessment. This assessment will consist of: clinical interview; physical examination; digital photography of both feet and ankles; plain x-rays of both feet, ankles and hands; ultrasound examination of the plantar fascia; anthropometric measurement; and a further self-complete questionnaire. Follow-up will be undertaken in consenting participants by postal questionnaire at 18 months (clinic attenders only) and three years (clinic attenders and survey participants), and also by review of medical records.
This three-year prospective epidemiological study will combine survey data, comprehensive clinical, x-ray and ultrasound assessment, and review of primary care records to identify radiographic phenotypes of foot OA in a population of community-dwelling older adults, and describe their impact on symptoms, function and clinical examination findings, and their presentation, diagnosis and management in primary care.
Gout is the most prevalent form of inflammatory arthropathy. Several studies suggest that its prevalence and incidence have risen in recent decades. Numerous risk factors for the development of gout have been established, including hyperuricaemia, genetic factors, dietary factors, alcohol consumption, metabolic syndrome, hypertension, obesity, diuretic use and chronic renal disease. Osteoarthritis predisposes to local crystal deposition. Gout appears to be an independent risk factor for all-cause mortality and cardiovascular mortality and morbidity, additional to the risk conferred by its association with traditional cardiovascular risk factors.
This invited paper provides a summary of a keynote lecture delivered at the 2011 Australasian Podiatry Conference. Gout is the most prevalent inflammatory arthropathy. It displays a striking predilection to affect the first metatarsophalangeal joint as well as joints within the mid-foot and ankle. A number of factors are known to reduce urate solubility and enhance nucleation of monosodium urate crystals including decreased temperature, lower pH and physical shock, all of which may be particularly relevant to crystal deposition in the foot. An association has also been proposed between monosodium urate crystal deposition and osteoarthritis, which also targets the first metatarsophalangeal joint. Cadaveric, clinical and radiographic studies indicate that monosodium urate crystals more readily deposit in osteoarthritic cartilage. Transient intra-articular hyperuricaemia and precipitation of monosodium urate crystals is thought to follow overnight resolution of synovial effusion within the osteoarthritic first metatarsophalangeal joint. The proclivity of gout for the first metatarsophalangeal joint is likely to be multi-factorial in origin, arising from the unique combination of the susceptibility of the joint to osteoarthritis and other determinants of urate solubility and crystal nucleation such as temperature and minor physical trauma which are particularly relevant to the foot.
Foot pain and related disability in older adults are common yet understudied problems. This study aimed to determine the onset and persistence of disabling foot pain in community-dwelling older adults over a 3-year period.
A 3-year follow-up postal survey was conducted in a population sample of older adults aged 50 years and older, recruited previously as part of the North Staffordshire Osteoarthritis Project. Disabling foot pain was defined as the report of problems on at least 1 of the 10 function items of the Manchester Foot Pain and Disability Index occurring on most/every day(s).
Of persons without disabling foot pain at baseline, 8.1% had developed it at 3 years. Onset was greater with increasing age (50–59 years, 6.7%; 60–69 years, 9.1%; and ≥70 years, 9.5%; p = .037), in females (2.5% difference; 95% confidence interval 0.3%–4.8%), and in those with nondisabling foot pain at baseline than those without foot pain (14.2% difference; 95% confidence interval: 10.0%–19.1%). Persistence of disabling foot pain at 3 years was 71.7%, more common in females (9.3% difference; 95% confidence interval: 0.8%–18.0%) but not associated with age.
Accelerated onset with increasing age and frequent persistence suggests considerable public health impact of disabling foot pain as the population ages. Prevention of disabling foot pain in later life should be prioritized and predisposing factors identified as potential intervention targets.
Foot; Pain; Population; Epidemiology; Older people
To determine whether joints affected by gout are also affected by osteoarthritis (OA).
A postal questionnaire was sent to all adults aged over 30 years registered with two general practices. The questionnaire assessed a history of gout (doctor diagnosed, or episodes suggestive of acute crystal synovitis) and medication use. Patients who possibly had gout attended for clinical assessment to verify the diagnosis on clinical grounds and assess the distribution of joints affected by acute attacks of gout and OA. Adjusted odds ratios (aOR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were calculated between the history of an acute attack of gout and the presence of OA at an individual joint adjusted for age, gender, body mass index and prior diuretic use in a binary logistic regression model.
A total of 4249 completed questionnaires were returned (32%). From 359 attendees, 164 cases of gout were clinically confirmed. A highly significant association existed between the site of acute attacks of gout and the presence of OA (aOR 7.94; 95% CI 6.27, 10.05). Analysis at individual joint sites revealed a significant association at the first metatarsophalangeal joint (aOR 2.06; 95% CI 1.28, 3.30), mid‐foot (aOR 2.85; 95% CI 1.34, 6.03), knee (aOR 3.07; 95% CI 1.05, 8.96) and distal interphalangeal joints (aOR 12.67; 95% CI 1.46, 109.91).
Acute attacks of gout at individual joint sites are associated with the presence of clinically assessed OA at that joint suggesting that OA may predispose to the localised deposition of monosodium urate crystals.
To assess concordance of the management of chronic gout in UK primary care with the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) gout recommendations.
A postal questionnaire was sent to all adults aged >30 years registered with two general practices. Patients with possible gout attended for clinical assessment, at which the diagnosis was verified clinically. Aspects of chronic gout management, including provision of lifestyle modification advice, use of urate‐lowering therapies (ULT) including dose titration to serum urate (SUA) level, prophylaxis against acute attacks, and diuretic cessation were assessed in accordance with the EULAR recommendations.
Of 4249 (32%) completed questionnaires returned, 488 reported gout or acute attacks and were invited for clinical assessment. Of 359 attendees, 164 clinically confirmed cases of gout were identified. Advice regarding alcohol consumption was recalled by 59 (41%), weight loss by 36 (25%) and diet by 42 (29%). Allopurinol was the only ULT used and was taken by 44 (30%); 31 (70%) were taking 300 mg daily. Mean SUA was lower in allopurinol users than non‐users (318 vs 434 μmol/l) and was less often >360 μmol/l in allopurinol users (23% vs 75%). Eight patients had recently commenced allopurinol; two of these also were taking prophylactic colchicine or non‐steroidal anti‐inflammatory drugs. Of 25 patients with diuretic‐induced gout, 16 (64%) were still taking a diuretic.
Treatment of chronic gout is often suboptimal and poorly concordant with EULAR recommendations. Lifestyle advice is infrequently offered, and allopurinol is restricted to a minority. Persistent hyperuricaemia was often seen in allopurinol non‐users, but was also in allopurinol users, suggesting that doses >300 mg are often necessary.
gout; primary health care; lifestyle risk reduction; allopurinol; EULAR recommendations
Objective. To estimate the incidence of, and factors associated with, consultation for musculoskeletal foot problems in primary care.
Methods. Survey data from 13 986 people aged ≥50 years who took part in the North Staffordshire Osteoarthritis Project were linked to a database of primary care consultations. Foot problems were defined as responding affirmatively to the questions: ‘Have you had any problems with your feet over the last year?’ or ‘Have you had pain in the last year in and around the foot?’. The main outcome measure was a record of a musculoskeletal foot-related consultation within 18 months following the survey.
Results. Of the 3858 participants with foot problems who had not consulted before the survey, 350 (9.1%) consulted in the 18 months following the survey. Age, sex, education, general health and pain in other regions were not associated with future consultation. However, those who consulted were more likely to have reported foot pain [adjusted odds ratio (OR) 2.04; 95% CI 1.22, 3.42) and to consider treatments to be effective in controlling disease (OR 1.54; 95% CI 1.07, 2.21) in the baseline survey, and to have been a frequent consulter in the 18 months before the survey (OR 1.65; 95% CI 1.30, 2.09).
Conclusions. Only a minority of older people with musculoskeletal foot problems consult their general practitioner about them. Foot pain, frequent consultation for other problems and positive perceptions of treatment efficacy appear to be the strongest factors influencing future consultation.
Foot deformities; Osteoarthritis; Pain; Consultation
Objective. Foot and ankle problems are highly prevalent in the general population; however, little is known about the characteristics of those seeking medical assessment for these problems. The objective of this study was to explore the extent and types of musculoskeletal foot and ankle problems in primary care.
Methods. Consultation data related to musculoskeletal foot and ankle problems in 2006 were extracted from the Consultations in Primary Care Archive (CiPCA), which covers consultations in 12 general practices in North Staffordshire. Data were cross-tabulated by age and gender, and annual consultation prevalence per 10 000 registered persons was calculated.
Results. Of the 55 033 musculoskeletal consultations documented in CiPCA in 2006, 4500 (8%) related to foot and ankle problems. The most commonly documented Read term was ‘foot pain’ (1281 consultations; 28%), followed by ‘ankle pain’ [451 (10%)]. Most consultations [3538 (79%)] involved non-traumatic conditions. Females accounted for slightly more consultations than males (55 vs 45%), and the highest proportion of consultations involved people aged 45–64 years (36%). The number of consultations per patient ranged from 1 to 11. Annual consultation prevalence was 290 per 10 000 registered persons and increased with age, reaching a peak in the 65- to 74-year age group (411 per 10 000 registered persons).
Conclusion. Foot and ankle problems account for a substantial number of consultations in primary care, and most frequently involve non-traumatic conditions. Further research is required to evaluate the factors that influence consultation for foot problems and strategies that general practitioners use to manage these conditions.
Foot deformities; Osteoarthritis; Pain; Consultation