Introduction Osteoarthritis (OA) is one of the leading chronic conditions in the older population. People with OA are more likely to have one or more other chronic conditions than those without. However, the temporal associations, clusters of the comorbidities, role of analgesics and the causality and variation between populations are yet to be investigated. This paper describes the protocol of a multinational study in four European countries (UK, Netherlands, Sweden and Spain) exploring comorbidities in people with OA. Methods and analysis This multinational study will investigate (1) the temporal associations of 61 identified comorbidities with OA, (2) the clusters and trajectories of comorbidities in people with OA, (3) the role of analgesics on incidence of comorbidities in people with OA, (4) the potential biomarkers and causality between OA and the comorbidities, and (5) variations between countries. A combined case-control and cohort study will be conducted to find the temporal association of OA with the comorbidities using the national or regional health databases. Latent class analysis will be performed to identify the clusters at baseline and joint latent class analysis will be used to examine trajectories during the follow-up. A cohort study will be undertaken to evaluate the role of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), opioids and paracetamol on the incidence of comorbidities. Mendelian randomisation will be performed to investigate the potential biomarkers for causality between OA and the comorbidities using the UK Biobank and the Rotterdam Study databases. Finally, a meta-analyses will be used to examine the variations and pool the results from different countries. Ethics and dissemination Research ethics was obtained according to each database requirement. Results will be disseminated through the FOREUM website, scientific meetings, publications and in partnership with patient organisations.
Bibliographical noteFunding This work was supported by Foundation for Research in Rheumatology (FOREUM) grant (2019-2022), The Swedish Research Council (2020-01103),
Governmental funding of clinical research within the national health services (ALF), and The Swedish Rheumatism Association. CM is funded by the National Institute
for Health Research (NIHR) Applied Research Collaboration West Midlands, the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) School for Primary Care Research and
a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Research Professorship in General Practice (NIHR-RP-2014-04-026).
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