Public Health England should work with other national bodies to ensure that data collection, analysis and publication raises awareness of multimorbidity and the relevance of its musculoskeletal (MSK) component.
Arthritis Research UK says by 2018 there will be 2.9m people living with multimorbidity
The call is made in a report by Arthritis Research UK exploring why MSK conditions must be included in future plans to address multimorbidity.
Arthritis Research UK says that NHS England should ensure that metrics and tools used in multimorbidity programmes include monitoring and measuring of pain and its impact on functional abilities and capability to manage.
Research funders, such as the National Institute for Health Research, should work with partners to ensure there is a flourishing research agenda covering multimorbidity, which includes common conditions such as MSK conditions.
Good MSK health underpins living well and independently with multimorbidity, but MSK conditions are too often overlooked, the charity says.
Meanwhile MSK conditions affect around 10 million people across the UK, and are often found in people with other long-term conditions.
The report reveals that among people over 45 years with a major long-term condition, more than 30 per cent also have arthritis. By 65, almost half of people with a heart, lung or mental health problem also have arthritis.
In addition 80 per cent of people with osteoarthritis have at least one other long-term condition such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease or depression.
Arthritis Research says it is essential to recognise the interaction between MSK conditions and other health problems.
Any long-term condition is associated with a drop in quality of life, but when arthritis or back pain is part of multimorbidity, the drop is greater. The pain and functional limitations of arthritis make it harder to cope when living with other long-term conditions.
Professor Peter Kay, NHS England’s national clinical director of MSK Services said: ‘We must work across systems to ensure we have the appropriate data collected and available to understand the numbers and requirements of people living with multiple long-term conditions.’
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