The following is a summary of a research project by the authors. For more information please see the published full-text journal article:

Zhao, T., Ahmad, H., Winzenberg, T., Aitken, D., de Graaff, B., Jones, G., & Palmer, K.E. (2021). Cross-sectional and temporal differences in health-related quality of life of people with and without osteoarthritis: a 10-year prospective study. Rheumatology75, keaa787.

Author: Ting Zhao1

  1. The Health Economics Research Unit, Menzies Institute for Medical Research, University of Tasmania (Australia)

Osteoarthritis is characterised by joint pain, stiffness, swelling, loss of function and disability yet there is a paucity of data on the health-related quality of life measures of people with osteoarthritis in Australia, particularly over the long term. Ting Zhao and colleagues from The Health Economics Research Unit at the University of Tasmania conducted this first long-term prospective study using the Tasmanian Older Adult Cohort (TASOAC) to investigate the cross-sectional and longitudinal differences of the impact of osteoarthritis on various physical and psychological aspects of the life.

The study found that participants with osteoarthritis had clinically important differences in quality-of-life measures with utility values 0.07 units lower over ten years compared to participants without osteoarthritis. The main dimensions impacted by osteoarthritis were psychological wellness, independent living, and social relationships.

As osteoarthritis impacts each health dimension with different intensity and timing, interventions to improve health-related quality of life may need to be tailored to specific osteoarthritis types and health dimensions, and the intensity of the interventions should be tailored over time and stages of disease process. Such interventions might include those to manage psychological wellness targeting at pain, sleep, and anxiety/depression, maintain social relationships and independent living. As psychosocial wellness is impacted irrespective of the type of osteoarthritis and the time of assessment, support to maintain psychological wellness (e.g.: pain, sleep, and anxiety/depression) should be provided to people with all types of osteoarthritis and throughout the disease process. However, increased and targeted support to maintain independent living could be more relevant to people with knee and/or hip osteoarthritis, particularly those living with the disease for longer. As social supports play a critical role in improving health-related quality of life our study also recommends improved access to social support for people with osteoarthritis, especially those with knee and/or hip osteoarthritis.