Background: Recent healthcare policy has shifted the management of musculoskeletal conditions in the UK away from secondary care towards Clinical Assessment and Treatment Services at the primary-secondary care interface. However, little is known about the outcome of patients with musculoskeletal conditions referred from primary care to Clinical Assessment and Treatment Services or how best to identify those patients at high risk of poor outcome in this setting. We describe the protocol for a twelve-month prospective observational study which aims to describe the outcome of patients referred to musculoskeletal and back pain services at the primary-secondary care interface and to develop simple prognostic measures to guide clinical prioritisation and triage.
Methods/design: All patients referred over a twelve-month period from primary care to musculoskeletal and back pain clinics in the primary-secondary care interface Clinical Assessment and Treatment Service in North Staffordshire will be mailed a postal questionnaire prior to their consultation. This will collect information on quality of life, general health, anxiety and depression, pain, healthcare utilisation including medication use, occupational characteristics, and socio-demographics. At the consultation in the interface clinic, the clinical diagnosis, investigations requested, and clinical interventions will be recorded. Follow-up data for the twelve-month period subsequent to recruitment will be collected via mailed follow-up questionnaires at 6 and 12 months, and review of medical records.
Discussion: This twelve-month prospective observational study of patients referred to a musculoskeletal Clinical Assessment and Treatment Service will assess the management and outcome of musculoskeletal care at the primary-secondary care interface as proposed in the Musculoskeletal Services Framework.