Objective: Osteoarthritis (OA) is highly prevalent throughout the world, especially in the elderly population, and is strongly associated with patients' frailty. However, little is known about the prevalence and treatment of OA in elderly patients in routine clinical care in Germany.
Materials and methods: As a part of Linking Patient-Reported Outcomes with CLAIms Data for Health Services Research in Rheumatology (PROCLAIR), a cross-sectional study using claims data from a large Germany statutory health insurance (BARMER) was conducted. We included people aged 60 years or older and assessed the prevalence of OA of the hip or knee, defined as having outpatient diagnoses (ICD: M16 or M17) in at least two quarters of 2014. The use of conservative treatment, including analgesics and physical therapy, and total joint replacement was studied. Analyses were stratified by age, sex, comorbidities, and level of care dependency defined by social law.
Results: A total of 595,754 patients (mean age: 74.9 years; 69.8% female) were diagnosed with OA (21.8%), with the highest prevalence in those between 80 and 89 years (31.0%) and in females compared to males (23.9% vs 18.3%). Prevalence decreased with increasing level of care dependency from 30.5% in patients with a low level (0/1) to 18.7% in the highest level of care dependency. A total of 63.4% of the patients with OA received analgesics, with higher use with increasing age. Physical therapy was prescribed to 43.1% of the patients, but use decreased with age. In all, 5.3% of the patients received total joint replacement in 2014.
Conclusion: The lower frequency of coded OA with increasing level of care dependency may reflect underdiagnosis, and patients with many other medical problems seem to be at risk for inadequate recognition and treatment of their OA.
Keywords: aged; analgesics; frail elderly; health services research; osteoarthritis; total joint replacement.