Listening to the daily challenges of people with arthritis

In October 2020, to help us reassess the priorities amongst all our key audiences and to support the future strategic development of the charity, we surveyed 2,500 people with arthritis to better understand their needs.

We had previously understood that people with arthritis can broadly be divided in two groups - those who are struggling to reduce the impact of their condition on their daily lives and those who are managing to do so. Those who are struggling can be categorised as those who are hardest hit on every front in terms of how they are affected. Heavily reliant on healthcare professionals for support and guidance, they are less open to non-medicalised management methods and are significantly impacted on a daily basis by their condition. In comparison, those who are managing are much more self-reliant and outward looking in terms of the management options they will consider, and generally tend to achieve a better quality of life as a result.

In addition to this existing knowledge, the survey revealed marked differences in the experiences of the two groups when it came to the impact factors which were significantly affecting them on a day-to-day basis. Pain and fatigue were a common story, but we learnt that these are much more keenly felt by those struggling, despite their increased use of prescription painkillers. For them, impact factors such as getting out and about, being able to take care of themselves at home and feeling low or anxious are all much more of an issue. They also told us that the combination of these things was having a really detrimental impact on their ability to participate in society and engage with the friends and family that they rely on heavily for support. Perhaps unsurprisingly, considering this, more than twice the number of people who were struggling told us they were dissatisfied with their lives nowadays compared to the managing group.

Overall Ranking of Needs Statements

(Ranking for those struggling shown in brackets)

1 "HCPs treating all my conditions together” (1)
3 “Having access to knowledgeable HCPs” (3)
5 “Having access to a range of treatment solutions I can try…” (2)
7 “Making the process easier, faster for diagnosis” (9)
8 “Having control over my treatment plan” (4)
9 “To know researchers are looking for new treatments” (10)
10 “Having access to non-medicalised methods to manage my condition” (8)

Q60. The following are various things that some people have suggested would have a positive impact on their life as someone with arthritis/MSK condition. Please go through the list and say how important you think each aspect would be for your personally in having a positive impact on your quality of life. BASE: Total sample core + boosts – PwA n=2246

Survey results coming soon!

In the Autumn of this year, we will be publishing our full findings via a sectional digital report summarising the evidence we gathered about the needs of people with arthritis and providing detailed data on the differences across a variety of demographic and social factors. It will also explore the impact that arthritis has on people’s lives and the complicated interplay between these areas.

We hope you’ll take a moment to review it, once published, and we are looking forward to hearing your reflections, finding out which themes you want to know more about and how the findings can help you tailor and improve the services you deliver.