April 1996 Bulletin

Campaign seeks public's aid for NIAMS

To educate patients about need for research funding

The Committee on Research, in conjunction with the Academic Orthopaedic Society (AOS), Orthopaedic Research Society (ORS) and American Orthopaedic Association (AOA), will soon launch a campaign to enlist patients in voicing their support for increased congressional appropriations to the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIH/NIAMS) for musculoskeletal research. NIAMS is an institute within NIH that sponsors basic, clinical and epidemiologic research, research training, and information programs about arthritis, and musculoskeletal and skin diseases.

The campaign, Patient Advocacy Campaign for Musculoskeletal Research Funding, builds on the previous collaborative efforts of the orthopaedic community to promote increased NIH/NIAMS funding. To date, the Academy has worked with AOS and ORS to create and distribute musculoskeletal fact sheets, meet annually with members of Congress, and become active members of the NIAMS Coalition. The coalition includes more than 40 voluntary and professional associations.

The Patient Advocacy Campaign for Musculoskeletal Research Funding provides a mechanism to gradually increase the involvement of orthopaedic patients in advocacy activities. One objective of this campaign is to further educate patients about the benefits derived from musculoskeletal research such as improved quality of life and lower health care costs. Patients will be informed about the important role that NIAMS plays in the funding of musculoskeletal research projects and the impact these projects have on their care. It is hoped that through the campaign's patient
education and advocacy initiatives a population of interested patients can be identified to share with Congress how their lives have been enhanced by advancements in musculoskeletal research.

Most of the other organizations represented in the NIAMS Coalition are already actively using patients as the primary advocates for promoting research funding in disease-specific areas such as lupus, arthritis, and scleroderma. The purpose of the Patient Advocacy Campaign for Musculoskeletal Research Funding is to enlighten members of Congress to the funding needs of musculoskeletal research as a whole, as opposed to a disease-specific approach.

This campaign will be overseen by the Committee on Research which is chaired by Michael G. Ehrlich, MD. The campaign will kick-off in June to coincide with the federal budget appropriations process. The Campaign will operate in the same manner as the Patient Access to Specialty Care Coalition. Orthopaedic surgeons who enroll in the campaign will receive a colorful desktop display unit and a supply of brochures to place in their reception rooms. The brochure will explain how patients can place a toll-free phone call, fax a letter of support, or speak directly with a member of Congress. Each practice enrolled in the campaign will be asked to designate a key contact within their office to facilitate information-sharing between the practice and the Academy. Project updates and legislative alerts will be distributed to enrolled practices on an as-needed basis.

In April, a targeted audience of orthopaedic surgeons, who are both practicing clinicians and researchers, will receive a brochure and an invitation to enroll in the campaign. An invitation for participation also will be extended to the Board of Councilors along with a formal request that the Patient Advocacy Campaign for Musculoskeletal Research Funding be incorporated into the established advocacy activities at the National Orthopaedic Leadership Conference.

Enrollment in the Patient Advocacy Campaign for Musculoskeletal Research is not limited; all interested orthopaedic surgeons are encouraged to sign up.

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