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Arthritis Australia E-Newsletter December 2013
Greetings from Arthritis Australia
The past year has yielded a number of achievements for Arthritis Australia including the membership’s unanimous vote to adopt a new Constitution and the establishment last month of an independent Board. To see the full list of the new Arthritis Australia Board of Directors click here.
We would like to thank the contributions of our outgoing board members Prof Graeme Jones, Dr Helen Cooley, Dr Ian Drover, Dr Irene Froyland, Hilary Fowler and Dr David Graham.
Details of other activities follow.
Improving care for people with arthritis
Arthritis Australia has embarked on a major project to establish national models of care to improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and juvenile idiopathic arthritis.
While models of care for these diseases already exist in a number of states and territories, evidence suggests that their implementation remains localised. Such a fragmented approach means that the care being received by consumers varies depending on where they live and where they seek care. This project aims to develop nationally applicable models of care for these conditions that are focused on placing consumers and their needs at the centre of the healthcare system.
A multidisciplinary steering committee of experts from rheumatology, general practice, pharmacy, patient advocacy, allied health and key services has been convened to oversee the project which will develop a White Paper recommending the key elements of care to optimally support people with these conditions. This White Paper is scheduled for release in early 2014.
The recommendations of the White Paper will provide a strong evidence and consensus based platform for the development of a comprehensive advocacy campaign to improve care for people with arthritis.
Arthritis is the second most common cause of disability in Australia, with one in six people with a disability having arthritis as their main disabling condition. However, there is limited awareness of the extent of the disability burden of arthritis. Anecdotal evidence also suggests that people with arthritis-related disability have difficulty accessing support services because they fall through the gaps between the health, aged care and disability systems.
To better understand arthritis-related disability and the problems people face, Arthritis Australia has commissioned research into the impact of living with arthritis-related disability. This research will cover the personal, social and economic impact as well as investigating the support and service needs of people with arthritis-related disability. The research is expected to be finalised by early 2014. The findings of this research will help inform our advocacy in relation to the roll out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
Arthritis Australia is seeking bipartisan support for increased federal government funding for arthritis research in Australia.
Research into arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions in Australia is chronically underfunded relative to the personal, social and economic burden of these conditions and relative to other National Health Priority Areas (NHPAs). Total research funding for the arthritis and osteoporosis NHPA in 2012 was only $25m, lower than all the NHPAs except asthma, and is falling.
Yet the burden of arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions is growing and now accounts for 15.3% of the total disease burden in Australia, second only to cancer. These conditions are also very costly, costing over $9 billion annually in direct costs to the health, welfare and aged care systems.
Underinvestment in arthritis and musculoskeletal research is impeding improvements in care for people with these conditions, undermining research capacity in the field and costing the government millions of dollars due to the preventable burden of these conditions.
Consequently we are seeking a strategic investment in research funding in this area of an additional $125m over the next five years including
A more comprehensive campaign in support of increased funding for arthritis research is being developed for 2014.
A comprehensive survey of more than 100 grant recipients of Arthritis Australia research funding over a period of six years was undertaken this year. Informed by the research evaluation initiatives undertaken by large UK-based medical research funders in recent years, the Arthritis Australia Retrospective Research Survey sought information on a wide range of research impacts occurring not only during the life of the grant, but developing in the years that followed. The survey results will be launched early in 2014 and assist Arthritis Australia in not only having a greater understanding of the ongoing value of its research investments but help inform future research funding priorities.
Rural outreach education
Arthritis Australia joined forces with the Australian Rural Rheumatology Service, led by Dr Louis McGuigan, to develop and implement a new and combined model of clinical care and education services in rural Australia. A pilot program is being undertaken in the New England Medicare Local region (NSW) with the educational services for consumers and health professionals being coordinated by Arthritis New South Wales. This pilot is being evaluated by NEWSTAT, the statistical arm of the University of Newcastle. It is anticipated that the Rural Outreach Education Project will improve access & equity issues in rural areas by building local health service capacity, increasing arthritis education and awareness among health professionals and consumers, and, ultimately, leading to better health outcomes. The project is being funded by Janssen.
If you have joint pain or have been diagnosed with Osteoarthritis (OA), head over to our new website www.MyJointPain.org.au
There's detailed information and lots of online tools to help you better manage your pain. There is no cure for OA and ongoing management is the only way to beat this disease. A little exercise, reducing weight, eating well, staying positive and pain management are all key. To help you, MyJointPain also has links to health practitioners in your area who can support you in these strategies.
Arthritis Australia worked in collaboration with Nestle to redesign the Nescafé Gold coffee jar shape so that it is easier to hold and, by introducing a ‘click and lock’ screw cap, easier to open. This local innovation has now been adopted globally by Nestle.
“In partnering with Arthritis Australia, this pack delivered a more intuitive cap opening for our consumers of Nescafe Gold” Jacky Nordsvan, Packaging Technologist, Nestle Oceania
New booklet about joint replacement
Wondering if joint replacement surgery is the right option for you? This new booklet provides practical advice to help you understand the benefits and risks of joint replacement surgery, learn how to prepare and plan for surgery, and know where to go for more information.
If you would like a copy of this booklet, please contact your local Arthritis office on 1800 011 041 or click to view.
We welcome your feedback about any of the information provided. Please forward any comments to us at
We hope you enjoyed reading our e-newsletter. On behalf of the Arthritis Australia team I would like to thank you for your support during 2013.
Our office will close for the Christmas/New Year period from Tuesday 24 December and will re-open Monday 6 January 2014.
Chief Executive Officer