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Young arthritis patients targeted in new study
Patients with ankylosing spondylitis (AS) who attend the Freeman and
North Tyneside Hospitals in Newcastle, Queen Elizabeth Hospital in
Gateshead, and Wansbeck Hospital in Ashington will be asked to
participate in the study.
AS is a type of inflammatory arthritis mainly affecting younger men,
which tends to start in the late teens and early twenties and
predominantly affects the spine and may lead to severe pain and
stiffness in the back.
The two-year study will be carried out by specialist registrar at the
Freeman Hospital, Dr Ben Thompson, and funded by almost £110,000 from
the Arthritis Research Campaign (arc).
Dr Thompson, who works at the AS clinic at the Freeman, and whose
academic base is in Newcastle University’s Musculoskeletal Research
Group, said the idea for the study had come from his patients.
'Although there are a few resources out there for patients, including
arc’s own AS booklet, we don’t know how they use the information or
which patients access it,”'he said. 'There is a lot of information for
people with chronic arthritic conditions and about arthritis in
general, but AS patients are slightly different; many are younger men
and we don’t know if the resources that are available really meet their
'Young men can find it difficult to acknowledge and cope with physical
disability, and engage with medical care. Any educational interventions
should take this into account and be tailored to this group. We think
there might be a gap in provision and that perhaps more interactive
resources might be more appropriate.'
As well as interviewing patients attending North East
hospitals, Dr Thompson and colleagues from the Department of
Rheumatology and the Newcastle University’s Institute of Health and
Society will hold focus groups with patients from the Tyne and Wear
National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society.
The views of rheumatologists and allied health
professionals such as specialist nurses, physiotherapists and
occupational therapists will also be sought.
Dr Thompson hopes to come up with recommendations about
new educational packages for AS patients and how to deliver them more
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