Osteoarthritis in Europe: impact on health status, work productivity and use of pharmacotherapies in five European countries

Rheumatology (Oxford). 2014 May;53(5):937-47. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/ket463. Epub 2014 Jan 30.


Objectives: The aims of this study were to examine the impact of peripheral joint OA across five large European countries and how people with OA use pharmacotherapies.

Methods: People with self-reported peripheral joint OA were selected from the 2011 five European countries (5EU) National Health and Wellness Survey (NHWS), which included 57 512 respondents from France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK. Information was recorded on symptoms, health status, health care utilization, work productivity and medication usage. All variables were analysed descriptively for the total population and individual countries.

Results: A total of 3750 respondents met the inclusion criteria: 1635 (43.6%) UK, 961 (25.6%) France, 570 (15.2%) Germany, 316 (8.4%) Spain and 268 (7.1%) Italy. The majority were ages 55-74 years and most were overweight or obese. Health status [12-item Short Form version 2 (SF12v2)] was similar across all countries, with a mean (s.d.) of 40.53 (10.99); 21.5% self-reported experiencing depression. Most had visited a health care provider in the previous 6 months (n = 3537; 94.3%). One third were employed: 7% reported absenteeism and 24% presenteeism. The use of prescription medication for OA was reported by 46.9% of patients, over-the-counter (OTC) medication by 26.5%, and both by 9.4%. Medication use increased with pain severity. NSAIDs were the most commonly used medication. Opioid use varied from 1.8% in Italy to 54.5% in France. Fifty per cent reported full adherence (4-point Morisky Medication Adherence Scale), but only 30% reported satisfaction with their OA medication. Most used medication for half the days of the month.

Conclusion: Despite some wide variations in pharmacotherapy for OA treatment, the impact of OA on health status and work productivity is substantial and looks largely similar across major European countries.

Keywords: health utility; medication; osteoarthritis; work productivity.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use
  • Cost of Illness*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Drug Therapy / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • France / epidemiology
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Health Status*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoarthritis / drug therapy*
  • Osteoarthritis / epidemiology*
  • Self Report*
  • Spain / epidemiology
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology
  • Work Capacity Evaluation*


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal