The treatment strategies of arthritis sufferers

Soc Sci Med. 1985;21(5):507-15. doi: 10.1016/0277-9536(85)90034-6.


This paper describes and analyses the reasons for variation in the treatment strategies used by arthritis sufferers. The research was undertaken among 103 people from the Australian city of Perth. Qualitative data was obtained from a clinical sample of 27 and, on the basis of that, an interview schedule was constructed and administered to a survey sample of 76 self-reported arthritis sufferers. Data collected included comprehensive case histories, knowledge and beliefs about arthritis, types of practitioners consulted and treatments used and a range of demographic and socioeconomic variables. On the basis of analysis, four basic treatment strategies were discerned. Named after their most salient characteristics and ranging from least to most inclusive these were 'general practitioner and/or self care', 'medical and paramedical care', 'medical and alternative care' and use of 'all sources of care'. The most important determinants of treatment strategy were characteristics of disease--severity, mode of onset and period since onset. The longer the period since onset, the wider the range of treatments utilized. When onset occurred at a relatively young age and when progression was rapid, the more frequently alternative services and treatments were employed. Disease characteristics were followed in importance by socioeconomic factors. Use of the less inclusive strategies was related to social class; with working class people relying primarily on 'general practitioner and/or self care' and middle class people using 'medical and paramedical care'. However, when onset and progression were rapid, the disease was severe and the person relatively young socioeconomic factors were of lesser importance and people from all classes made use of the more inclusive strategies.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Arthritis / therapy*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / therapy
  • Attitude to Health
  • Australia
  • Complementary Therapies
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Family Practice
  • Humans
  • Osteoarthritis / therapy
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Self Care
  • Social Class