Background Osteoarthritis is the most prevalent chronic joint disease. In the absence of an effective medical treatment, the diagnosis of osteoarthritis raises especial concern once labelling has specific related effects on quality of life.
Objectives To measure the impact on quality of life of relating chronic pain symptoms with a specific musculoskeletal clinical diagnosis.
Methods During the follow-up evaluation of a cohort of Portuguese adults (n=1682), 670 (39.8%) reported moderate to severe musculoskeletal pain in at least one anatomical site of interest (knee, hip and hand). After exclusion due to the missing data, 463 subjects were considered (mean age 59.8 (SD=12.80), 76.9% women). Musculoskeletal pain was assessed using a structured questionnaire. Clinically significant pain was defined as: 1) three or more pain episodes in the previous year or 2) one painful episode with duration over one week in the previous six months. Participants were also inquired about any medical diagnosis of osteoarthritis referred to the pain sites evaluated. Health-related quality of life was assessed by the Short Form Health Survey (SF-36). Participants were categorized by pain site and according to the presence of a known related musculoskeletal condition diagnosis. The mean scores of physical and mental dimensions of health-related quality of life and the corresponding 95% confidence intervals were obtained using ANOVA. The mean scores of physical and mental dimensions of SF-36 were adjusted for sex, education, and frequency of visits to the doctor in the previous year.
Results From those reporting pain, 242 (52.3%) subjects had pain in one anatomical site, 152 (32.8%) in two and 69 (14.9%) in three. Participants complaining of knee and hip pain and having a correspondent known knee and hip osteoarthritis diagnosis significantly perceive a lower physical quality of life when compared to those without such diagnosis (adjusted mean scores =42.8 vs. 45.8 and 41.2 vs. 44.3, p<0.05, respectively). However, there were no significant differences in the physical dimension of health-related quality of life between subjects when hand osteoarthritis was considered (44.4 vs. 45.2, p=0.484). Notwithstanding, the presence of an osteoarthritis diagnosis explaining the reported pain did not change the mental dimension of health-related quality of life, independently of the pain site considered.
Conclusions An osteoarthritis diagnosis seems not to interfere with psychological well-being but may contribute to a worse physical quality of life perception. Actively case-finding strategies in the population aiming at defining an osteoarthritis diagnosis may be have doubtful usefulness in the way individuals cope with their symptoms, particularly pain.
Disclosure of Interest None Declared