Common language description of the term rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases (RMDs) for use in communication with the lay public, healthcare providers and other stakeholders endorsed by the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) and the American College of Rheumatology (ACR)

Ann Rheum Dis. 2018 Jun;77(6):829-832. doi: 10.1136/annrheumdis-2017-212565. Epub 2018 Mar 13.


A European League Against Rheumatism-American College of Rheumatology working group consisting of practising and academic rheumatologists, a rheumatology researcher and a patient representative created a succinct general statement describing rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases (RMDs) in adults and children in language that can be used in conversations with the lay public, media, healthcare providers and other stakeholders. Based on the literature review, several elements were deemed important for inclusion in the description of RMDs. First, RMDs encompass many different diseases that can affect individuals at any age, including children. Second, there are various pathophysiological pathways underlying different RMDs. Third, the impact of RMDs on individuals and society should be emphasised. The working group agreed that the language should be comprehensible to the lay public. Thus, the following description of RMDs has been developed: 'Rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases (RMDs) are a diverse group of diseases that commonly affect the joints, but can affect any organ of the body. There are more than 200 different RMDs, affecting both children and adults. They are usually caused by problems of the immune system, inflammation, infections or gradual deterioration of joints, muscles and bones. Many of these diseases are long term and worsen over time. They are typically painful and limit function. In severe cases, RMDs can result in significant disability, having a major impact on both quality of life and life expectancy.' This description can be used by rheumatology groups, researchers and those who work in advocacy and education related to RMDs.

Keywords: epidemiology; health services research; qualitative research.

Publication types

  • Consensus Development Conference

MeSH terms

  • Communication*
  • Consumer Health Information / standards
  • Humans
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / physiopathology
  • Rheumatic Diseases / diagnosis
  • Rheumatic Diseases / physiopathology
  • Terminology as Topic*