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  • COAMI Recommends Treating OA as a Chronic Disease

    Osteoarthritis (OA) should be considered—and treated—in a more multidisciplinary, coordinated, and prevention‐oriented way, similar to other chronic diseases, says a call to action recently issued by the Chronic Osteoarthritis Management Initiative (COAMI), a program of the United States Bone and Joint Initiative (USBJI).   

    The COAMI work group met in May to assess current practice in the management of osteoarthritis. Work group members included physical therapists; orthopedic nurses and surgeons; specialists in rheumatology, rehabilitation, and sports medicine; osteopathic physicians; and athletic trainers.

    Changing the paradigm of intervention for OA, especially among health care providers, was a primary focus of the meeting. OA should be "subject to screening for risk factors, prevention‐oriented interventions, ongoing monitoring, and comprehensive care models typical of other chronic diseases. Instead, many patients and health care providers tolerate and expect pain and disability as an inevitable trajectory of OA and aging," says COAMI.

    In addition, the work group identified 7 priority actions to undertake, with the help of partners in other organizations who share COAMI's goals for improved patient outcomes.

    The priority actions are:

    • developing a call to action geared specifically to health care professionals who treat patients with OA, as well as policymakers and the public;
    • convening a larger conference that leads to further recommendations that would build agreement across disciplines and specialties within the health care system, so that current inconsistencies in approach could be resolved, and models of care developed;
    • reaching out to other partners beyond the Work Group members (both existing and new) to include them in future COAMI work;
    • exploring standardized screening tools and indicators of OA to make early diagnosis both more consistent and more likely;
    • developing tools and prompts that promote patient engagement in learning about and managing OA (especially before symptoms become debilitating);
    • lending COAMI's support to existing advocacy and awareness efforts that are already underway; and
    • developing and supporting an OA-specific research agenda that would fill gaps in evidence and practice.

    APTA is a founding member of the USBJI and serves on its board of directors.  

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