Objectives To assess the consultation prevalence of musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions as presented in different healthcare systems, and to determine the feasibility of comparing prevalence figures between nations.
Methods The settings were an English regional database (Consultations in Primary Care Archive (CiPCA)) and the Swedish Skåne County Health Care Register. Case definitions, data extraction and analysis procedures were harmonised. The number of people consulting per 10 000 registered population in primary care, and in primary or secondary care, in the year 2010 (annual consultation prevalence) were determined for doctor-diagnosed osteoarthritis (OA), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), low back pain, and spondyloarthritis including psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis (AS). Seven-year period consultation prevalences were also determined.
Results Combining primary and secondary care, annual consultation prevalences of any MSK condition (2143 vs 1610/10 000) and low back pain (587 vs 294/10 000) were higher in England than in Sweden, but higher for RA, spondyloarthritis and psoriatic arthritis in Sweden. Annual primary care prevalence figures for OA (176 vs 196/10 000), RA (25 vs 26/10 000), spondyloarthritis (both 8/10 000) and psoriatic arthritis (5 vs 3/10 000) were similar between England and Sweden. AS was rarely recorded in Swedish primary care. These patterns were also observed for 7-year period consultation prevalences.
Conclusions A rigorous methodological approach allowed feasible comparison of MSK consultation prevalence between England and Sweden. Differences in prevalence of inflammatory and unspecific pain conditions may be partially explained by known variations in healthcare systems and recording practice. Routine healthcare data offers potential for investigating variations in occurrence and outcome of MSK conditions between nations.
- Low Back Pain
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
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