Objective: Musculoskeletal conditions are a major burden on individuals, health systems, and social care systems. The objective of the MAPPING study was to assess the impact of musculoskeletal conditions on health-related quality of life (HRQL) in an Italian population sample.
Methods: Trained rheumatologists carried out structured visits in which subjects were asked about musculoskeletal symptoms and socio-demographic characteristics, completed validated instruments for measuring HRQL, such as the Short Form 36 items status survey questionnaire (SF-36), the EUROQoL five item questionnaire (EQ-5D), and chronic pain severity (Chronic Pain Grade - CPG questionnaire), and underwent a standardized physical examination. We considered a sample size of 576 patients diagnosed as having had musculoskeletal conditions. For the purposes of this study, musculoskeletal diseases were classified into 4 diagnostic groups: inflammatory rheumatic diseases (IRD), symptomatic peripheral osteoarthritis (SPOA), low back pain (LBP), and soft tissue disorders (STD). Cases were defined by previously validated criteria.
Results: The 4 major musculoskeletal disease groups, compared to non-sufferers, significantly impaired all eight health concepts of the SF-36 in the following order of magnitude: IRD, SPOA, STD, and LBP. Similar results were found for EQ-5D. The most striking impact was seen for SF-36 physical measures. On multiple regression modelling the physical component (PCS) of the SF-36 was influenced by female sex, age, high BMI, and low educational level (all at a p level < 0.001), and by manual occupation (p = 0.028) and chronic co-morbidity (p = 0.035) in LBP In SPOA, factors influencing physical function were age (p = 0.0001), low educational level (p = 0.006), female sex (p = 0.028), and chronic co-morbidity (p = 0.037). Moreover, an association on chronic co-morbidity and low educational level (both at a p level < 0.001), age (p = 0.004), and manual occupation (p = 0.035) was found with IRD, as well as of chronic co-morbidity and low educational level (both at a p level < 0.001), female sex (p = 0.006) and high BMI (p = 0.036) with STD were also found. Similar results were found for EQ-5D.
Conclusions: The MAPPING study indicates that musculoskeletal conditions have a clearly detrimental effect on the HRQL and one third of the adult population in Italy visited at least one physician for musculoskeletal problem in the past year. These results enable a comparison to be made of the burden of musculoskeletal conditions with that of other common chronic conditions.