Changes to consultations and diagnosis of osteoarthritis in primary care during the COVID-19 pandemic

Premysl Velek, Evelien de Schepper, Dieuwke Schiphof, Willem Evert van Spil, Martin Englund, Karin Magnusson, Ali Kiadaliri, Andrea Dell'Isola, Silvan Licher, Sita Bierma-Zeinstra, Jos Runhaar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: General practitioners (GP) are often the first medical professionals to treat musculoskeletal complaints. Yet the impact of COVID-19 on primary care utilisation for musculoskeletal complaints is largely unknown. This study quantifies the impact of the pandemic on primary care utilisation for musculoskeletal complaints and specifically osteoarthritis (OA) in the Netherlands.

DESIGN: We extracted data on GP consultations in 2015-2020 from 118,756 patients over 45 years of age and estimated reductions in consultations in 2020 as compared to 5-year average. Outcomes were GP consultations for: any musculoskeletal complaints, knee and hip OA and complaints, newly diagnosed knee and hip OA/complaints.

RESULTS: The relative reductions in consultations ranged from 46.7% (95% CI: 43.9-49.3%) (all musculoskeletal consultations) to 61.6% (95% CI: 44.7-73.3%) (hip complaints) at the peak of the first wave, and from 9.3% (95% CI: 5.7-12.7%) (all musculoskeletal consultations) to 26.6% (95% CI: 11.5-39.1%) (knee OA) at the peak of the second wave. The reductions for new diagnoses were 87.0% (95% CI: 71.5-94.1%) for knee OA/complaints, and 70.5% (95% CI: 37.7-86.0%) for hip OA/complaints at the peak of the first wave, and and not statistically significant at the peak of the second wave.

CONCLUSION: We observed 47% reduction in GP consultations for musculoskeletal disorders during the first wave and 9.3% during the second wave. For hip and knee OA/complaints, the reductions were over 50% during the first, and 10% during the second wave. This disruption may lead to accumulation of patients with severe OA symptomsand more requests for arthroplasty surgery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)829-838
JournalOsteoarthritis and Cartilage
Volume31
Issue number6
Early online date2023 Mar 4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Orthopedics

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