New research

CAM-PAIN programme

In partnership with the National Institute for Health Research, Versus Arthritis are funding a project headed by Professor Kate Dunn, of Keele University, to explore paediatric rheumatology care delivery at primary care level. Professor Dunn is leading a collaboration of researchers from the UK and Sweden to understand just how prevalent juvenile unspecified MSK pain is, and what treatments are currently used. The researchers then aim to use this knowledge to empower young people and health care professionals to better manage these conditions.

They will use a range of interview and focus group techniques, with a sample of children, family, and healthcare professionals, as well as analysing anonymised healthcare records to assess the prevalence, incidence, trends, management plus healthcare costs for adolescent MSK pain. Then, using this information, they will develop new self-management resources to help support children and their parents. 

Professor Kate Dunn said “There is a massive research gap among this important group of children and young people. We are very excited to learn much more about their patterns and experiences of musculoskeletal pain and its management. Involvement of health professionals to maximise the roll out of these resources will help us to make a difference in this group of children and young people.”

As part of their research, Kate Dunn and team are looking for healthcare professionals to participate in qualitative work to provide experiences on how care is usually delivered for childhood unspecified MSK pain. Additionally, they are looking for health professionals to participate as stakeholders in the study's implementation and knowledge mobilisation phase.

If you would like to get involved in the research at any capacity please send your expressions of interest to Professor Kate Dunn at

Versus Arthritis are excited to be funding such a novel area of research that aligns so clearly with our research strategy priority of Living Well, through supporting new ways to self-manage MSK conditions and improve partnerships with organisations and healthcare professionals to work together to improve the lives of young people living with MSK.

Highlighting the importance of transitional services from paediatric to adult rheumatology

A recent study by Dr Ruth Costello of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, found that 2 in 3 people with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) continue specialist care after 18 years old, and that some groups are less likely to do so than others. Prior to this research, it was unknown how many JIA patients would enter remission in childhood and how many would require ongoing specialised care as adults to manage their condition. At the National MSK Health Data group's biannual meeting in December, Dr Costello presented her research to health data experts, on the transition of care from paediatric to adult rheumatology services. 

Dr Costello’s research revealed that the proportion of people with JIA continuing specialist care is double what was previously estimated. Knowing now that two thirds of patients will remain in specialist services, we understand that the scale of this challenge is larger than previously thought. In addition to this, Costello and colleagues found when examining the demographics of those who continued in specialist care, that those who were female, those from less deprived backgrounds and those with uveitis, were more likely to continue with specialist care. Conversely, people with depression, were less likely to continue specialist care past age 18.

It is hoped that this research will encourage clinicians to communicate more with young people with JIA, and their families, to plan and prepare for their care in the long term. This data will also aid in developing adolescent, young adult services, as well as managing the transition between them, so that young people’s care needs are met fully. Furthermore, it will allow clinicians to better target the people who are falling out of the system, and ensure they receive specialist care for as long as they need it.

Dr Costello said, “Feedback has shown that this research will be important for young people and their families as it gives an indication of what they can expect when they/their child is diagnosed with JIA. It is also helpful for clinicians and other medical staff in planning JIA services.”

This research is vital to shaping our understanding of how our health services can support young people with arthritis, and recognise where there are gaps in support, aligning with Versus Arthritis’ Living Well research priority. Additionally, by presenting at the National MSK Health Data Group, the research was shared with relevant stakeholders who can use the information to target essential needs and promote positive change for young people with arthritis.

Find out more

The next National MSK Health Data Group meeting will be at the beginning of June. If you would like to be added to the mailing list and attend future meetings please contact  

Watch a video recording of the 16th National MSK Health Data Group meeting.

Read the Oxford Academic Rheumatology journal article, 'Continuing specialist care into adulthood in young people with juvenile idiopathic arthritis: a retrospective cohort study using electronic health records in England' written by Costello, R.E., Kearsley-Fleet, L., McDonagh, J.E., Hyrich, K.L. and Humphreys, J.H., 2022.