June 2001 Bulletin

Reports show need for Bone and Joint Decade

Stuart L. Weinstein, MD, chairman of the U.S. National Action Network, Bone and Joint Decade, discussed organizing principles with Neil Birnbaum, MD, American College of Rheumatology.

Two reports on the incidence of arthritis and the paucity of research on musculoskeletal conditions are further indications of the importance of meeting the goals of the Bone and Joint Decade.

In May, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that by 2020 the number of people with arthritis in the United States is expected to rise by about 40 percent to 60 million and the activities of 11.6 million will be limited by the disease. The engine of the increase is the aging population.

Another report, based on a MEDLINE search for articles on arthritis and other musculoskeletal problems published between 1991 and 1996, found medical journals devoted relatively little space to the conditions. This could suggest inadequate research in this area, said the researchers in the April issue of the Journal of Rheumatology. Arthritis ranked ninth out of 12 disease categories in the number of citations in medical literature, yet musculoskeletal conditions were the number one cause of health professional consultations and the leading contributor of total health costs the researchers said.

Other evidence of the burden of musculoskeletal conditions on society is being developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Bone and Joint Monitor Group. A report is expected to be published by WHO in the fall.

The Bone and Joint Decade program is an international effort supported by 32 governments and 46 states in the U.S. It expected to lead to increased funding for prevention, increased research funding, increased number of researchers and new treatment options which will expand the scope of what orthopaedists can do.

The Bone and Joint Decade program is important to orthopaedic surgeons because it is an opportunity to show that the burden of disease is significant and that the treatments and research of orthopaedists have value, says Stuart L. Weinstein, MD, chairman of the United States National Action Network (NAN) of the Bone and Joint Decade.

In April, the NAN organizing committee, which is now the steering committee, developed basic concepts for goals and objectives for the U.S. effort of the international program. The basic concepts are to raise awareness of musculoskeletal disorders and the burden it imposes on society in the United States, empower patients to learn about their musculoskeletal condition, promote cost-effective prevention and treatments and to increase research funding and recruitment of clinical and basic investigators. The concepts will be circulated for refinement to member-organizations of the NAN steering committee.

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