Background: Osteoarthritis (OA) is a common cause of disability and consultation with a GP. However, little is known about what currently happens when patients with OA consult their GP. This review aims to compare existing literature reporting patient experiences of consultations in which OA is discussed with GP attitudes and beliefs regarding OA, in order to identify any consultation events that may be targeted for intervention.
Methods: After a systematic literature search, a narrative review has been conducted of literature detailing patient experiences of consulting with OA in primary care and GP attitudes to, and beliefs about, OA. Emergent themes were identified from the extracted findings and GP and patient perspectives compared within each theme.
Results: Twenty two relevant papers were identified. Four themes emerged: diagnosis; explanations; management of the condition; and the doctor-patient relationship. Delay in diagnosis is frequently reported as well as avoidance of the term osteoarthritis in favour of 'wear and tear'. Both patients and doctors report negative talk in the consultation, including that OA is to be expected, has an inevitable decline and there is little that can be done about it. Pain management appears to be a priority for patients, although a number of barriers to effective management have been identified. Communication within the doctor patient consultation also appears key, with patients reporting a lack of feeling their symptoms were legitimised.
Conclusions: The nature of negative talk and discussions around management within the consultation have emerged as areas for future research. The findings are limited by generic limitations of interview research; to further understanding of the OA consultation alternative methodology such as direct observation may be necessary.