Patterns of knee osteoarthritis management in general practice: a retrospective cohort study using electronic health records

Ilgin G. Arslan*, A. C. van Berkel, J. Damen, P. Bindels, M. de Wilde, S. M.A. Bierma-Zeinstra, D. Schiphof

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Objective: 

This study determined patterns of knee osteoarthritis (OA) management by general practitioners (GPs) using routine healthcare data from Dutch general practices from 2011 to 2019. 

Design: 

A retrospective cohort study was conducted using the Integrated Primary Care Information database between 2011 and 2019. Electronic health records (EHRs) of n = 750 randomly selected knee OA patients (with either codified or narrative diagnosis) were reviewed against eligibility criteria and n = 503 patients were included. Recorded information was extracted on GPs’ management from six months before to three years after diagnosis and patterns of management were analysed.

Results: 

An X-ray referral was the most widely recorded management modality (63.2%). The next most widely recorded management modalities were a referral to secondary care (56.1%) and medication prescription or advice (48.3%). Records of recommendation of/referral to other primary care practitioners (e.g. physiotherapists) were found in only one third of the patients. Advice to lose weight was least common (1.2%). Records of medication prescriptions or recommendation of/referral to other primary care practitioners were found more frequently in patients with an X-ray referral compared to patients without, while records of secondary care referrals were found less frequently. Records of an X-ray referral were often found in narratively diagnosed knee OA patients before GPs recorded a code for knee OA in their EHR. 

Conclusion: 

These findings emphasize the importance of better implementing non-surgical management of knee OA in general practice and on initiatives for reducing the overuse of X-rays for diagnosing knee OA in general practice.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2
JournalBMC Primary Care
Volume25
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Feb 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s).

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