A lack of evidence-based clinical musculoskeletal guidelines has prompted the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) to develop guidelines for GPs and other primary health care professionals covering musculoskeletal prevention and early treatment.
RACGP President, Dr Chris Mitchell, said that the new RACGP musculoskeletal guidelines are significant because most current clinical guidelines available are consensus-based, agreed on by peers, rather than evidence-based and there is very limited information on juvenile idiopathic arthritis.
The first three of four guidelines cover osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and juvenile idiopathic arthritis and were launched on Friday, 11 September. Each guideline includes:
- Algorithms (diagnosis and management) that are designed to be reference tools during consultations
- Recommendations that provide a summary and grading of the available evidence
"These guidelines are a first for general practice in Australia . We are pleased to see that there has already been significant international interest in this important work," Dr Mitchell said.
"The guidelines focus strongly on the early diagnosis and management because there is an opportunity within the first few months of disease onset to provide treatment that effectively limits structural damage and improves health outcomes."
"Early and proper diagnosis is paramount in effectively managing severe forms of arthritis. We encourage GPs to actively use these step-by-step guidelines to ensure their patients have the opportunity of accessing suitable and timely treatments for their condition," said Arthritis Australia ‘s CEO, Ainslie Cahill.
The RACGP has been working with expert working groups (general practitioner and other primary health care professionals) and a consultant appointed by the National Health Medical Research Council (NHMRC) to develop these four guidelines.
These guidelines are one of the first to use the NHMRC Evidence based Matrix (NHMRC additional levels of evidence and gradings of recommendations for developers of guidelines), which greatly assisted the grading of the recommendations.
(Source: Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP): September 2009)