Patterns of arthritis medication use in a community sample
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Patterns of arthritis medication use in a community sample

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  • Alternative Title:
    J Prim Care Community Health
  • Description:
    BACKGROUND Although arthritis is disabling, highly prevalent, and often treated without health professional input, little is known about the treatments selected by affected individuals. Such information is important because of the toxicity associated with some arthritis treatments. OBJECTIVE To describe the pattern of drug treatment use in a sample of persons with arthritis. DESIGN, SETTING and PATIENTS We distributed an 11-item survey to veterans attending veterans’ organization post meetings in southeastern Wisconsin during November and December 2009. Of 32 posts, 26 (81%) returned surveys from 446 persons; survey count and attendance figures suggest the vast majority of attendees completed surveys at participating posts. Most respondents were older (75% aged 60 years or older) men (90%). MEASUREMENTS Respondents with arthritis reported whether they had used each of seven drug therapies in the past year. RESULTS Almost all members of participating posts responded to the survey, increasing the likelihood this was a representative sample. Most (290/446, 65%) respondents reported having arthritis, which impaired function in 78.6% of them. Most of those with arthritis (252/290, 86.9%) had used at least one drug treatment for arthritis in the last year. Acetaminophen use (41.6%) and use of an over the counter NSAID (42.1%) were common. NSAID use did not decrease with older age, or increase with greater functional impairment. CONCLUSIONS Self-medication for arthritis is very common and often does not follow clinical guidelines. Efforts to improve the quality of osteoarthritis care that focus solely on healthcare providers are unlikely to ensure optimal osteoarthritis care.
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