An osteoarthritis model of care should be a national priority for New Zealand
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Osteoarthritis is highly prevalent, disabling and costly to the person and the community. The burden of this chronic condition is predicted to increase dramatically over the coming decades. Healthcare spending on osteoarthritis is unsustainable and action is needed to improve care delivery. At present, there is an over-emphasis on surgical and pharmacological interventions, despite evidence supporting conservative treatments such as exercise, weight loss and education. While clinical guidelines provide recommendations regarding best practice (ie, what to do), they fail to address how to operationalise these recommendations into clinical practice. Models of care (MoCs) can help bridge the evidence-practice gap by outlining evidence-informed interventions as well as how to implement them within a local system. However, New Zealand has no osteoarthritis MoC. The Mobility Action Programme, funded by the Ministry of Health, is delivering evidence-informed, multi-disciplinary care for osteoarthritis through local initiatives. Although the programme remains under evaluation it presents an opportunity to inform development of a national osteoarthritis MoC for New Zealand. A policy framework, such as a MoC, is needed to scale up successful programs and deliver best practice care nationwide. Ultimately, addressing the burden of osteoarthritis will require system-wide approaches involving public policy responses to target primary prevention.
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