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Understanding MSK Data

Data and surveillance can be used to understand MSK conditions and local needs in the population. Let's explore further.

Population health

Population health is an approach that aims to improve physical and mental health outcomes, promote wellbeing and reduce health inequalities across an entire population.

Population health data and intelligence is used to understand MSK conditions in the population, monitor them over time and continuously drive improvement in health for people with MSK conditions.

Utilising data

Utilising data on the prevalence, risk factors, multi-morbidities, and impact of MSK conditions can support evidence-based policymaking at a national and local level.

Population health data and intelligence on MSK conditions are available from a range of different sources.

Versus Arthritis has published The State of Musculoskeletal Health, which is a compendium of statistics that aims to provide the best picture available on the current overall burden and subsequent impact of MSK conditions in the UK today.

The Global Burden of Disease Study (GBD)

One of the main sources of MSK data is from the Global Burden of Disease Study (GBD). The GBD collects data from over 80,000 data sources from countries across the world.

These are used as inputs for the GBD modelling methodology to produce comparative estimates of death and disability.

The GBD provides a measure of deaths, years lived with disability (YLDs) and Disability-Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) for a range of MSK conditions such as back pain, neck pain, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and gout.

The Health Survey for England (HSE)

The Health Survey for England (HSE) monitors trends in the nation’s health and care each year. The survey is used to monitor the prevalence of longstanding conditions, such as MSK-related conditions, as well as monitoring MSK-related risk factors such as for overweight and obesity and physical activity.

The annual GP Patient Survey (GPPS) is run by NHS England and sent to over a million people, providing practice-level data about patients’ experiences. The GPPS also asks respondents questions about their health, including long term health conditions such as arthritis or ongoing problem with the back or joints.

This allows MSK prevalence data to be reported at a local level.

Indicators of MSK health

PHE pulls data together from these sources and others to produce indicators on MSK health in the Musculoskeletal Conditions Fingertips profile at a range of geographies, including England, region and local authority level.

The indicators presented in the profile provide information on different aspects of MSK health.

They range from the prevalence of MSK conditions and risk factors, contact with primary care, to contact with allied health professionals, and the impact of the MSK condition.

Breaking the data down

Data within the Musculoskeletal Conditions profile can be broken down by a range of inequality measures, such as age, socio-economic status, ethnicity, area-based deprivation and religion, depending on the source of the data.

Data for these indicators come from a variety of sources including primary and secondary care, as well as surveys. Confidence intervals are produced for these indicators and local authorities can be benchmarked against other similar authorities.

Understanding Local Needs

PHE’s Musculoskeletal Conditions profile provides local data on prevalence rates and risk factors to enable commissioners to understand the unique health needs of local populations.

The profile is accompanied by the Musculoskeletal conditions: return on investment tool to help local commissioners provide cost-effective interventions for the prevention and treatment of musculoskeletal conditions.

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Musculoskeletal Health: A Public Health Approach

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