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The public neglect of rheumatic diseases: Insights from analyses of attendees in a musculoskeletal disease awareness activity
  1. Klaus P Machold (klaus.machold{at}
  1. Medical University of Vienna, Austria
    1. Marcus D Köller (marcus.koeller{at}
    1. Medical University of Vienna, Austria
      1. Stephan Pflugbeil (stephan.pflugbeil{at}
      1. Hietzing Hospital, Vienna, Austria
        1. Christof Zimmermann
        1. Hietzing Hospital, Vienna, Austria
          1. Ernst Wagner
          1. Rehabilitation Center for Rheumatic Diseases of the Lower Austrian Public Health Insurance, Baden, Austria
            1. Ulrike Stuby
            1. General Hospital, Linz, Austria
              1. Daniel Aletaha
              1. Medical University of Vienna, Austria
                1. Tanja A Stamm (tanja.stamm{at}
                1. Medical University of Vienna, Austria
                  1. Franz Mayrhofer
                  1. Special Hospital of the PVA, Bad Schallerbach, Austria
                    1. Attila Dunky
                    1. Wilhelminen Hospital, Vienna, Austria
                      1. Josef Herrmann
                      1. Medical University of Graz, Austria
                        1. Wilfried Ilias
                        1. Barmherzige Brüder Hospital, Vienna, Austria
                          1. Josef S Smolen
                          1. Medical University of Vienna, Austria
                            1. the Rheuma-Bus group of physicians
                            1. n.a., Austria


                              Objectives: To obtain data on the care received by individuals counselled during a public health awareness campaign on painful musculoskeletal conditions (MSC).

                              Methods: Easy non-formal access to rheumatologists/pain specialists was offered using a mobile unit (“Rheuma-Bus”) at widely accessible sites. Clients were asked to assess their pain severity using a 100 mm visual analogue scale (VAS). Age, gender, disease duration, diagnosis if known, current and previous treatment as well as tentative diagnoses assigned and recommendations given to each individual by the counselling physicians were recorded.

                              Results: Average VAS pain rating was 59±20.6 mm. Approximately 40% of clients had never consulted a physician for their condition before, but had lower pain scores than those who had seen a physician. Patients with inflammatory MSC had higher pain scores than those with non-inflammatory conditions. More than 2% of the clients had a newly detected inflammatory rheumatic disease.

                              Conclusions: Many individuals suffering from painful MSC seek medical help only when a very high threshold of pain is reached. Even under therapy, the high mean pain scores suggest neglect of MSC which are not adequately recognized as important contributors to disability and decreased quality of life.

                              • awareness
                              • health care
                              • joint pain
                              • treatment

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